The Inclusive FinTech Forum, a groundbreaking event set in the vibrant city of Kigali, Rwanda, commenced on June 20, 2023, with a promise to catalyze change in the realm of financial technology. The forum was a result of the collaborative efforts of Elevandi and the Kigali International Financial Centre, both prominent entities committed to fostering financial inclusivity and sustainability. With an aim to champion inclusive finance and bolster financial technology in emerging economies, the forum was intended to empower the most vulnerable segments of society, enrich the African fintech landscape, and expedite the implementation of financial inclusion.
Day one: Bridging borders, breaking barriers
The Inclusive FinTech Forum launched in Kigali, Rwanda, marking a pivotal start with approximately 3,000 participants from over 78 countries, underlining the Global South’s enthusiasm for digital transformation. Insightful dialogues filled the day, bringing together policymakers, investors, and industry leaders. The Africa Chapter of The Capital Meets Policy Dialogue took center stage, opened by Tidjane Thiam, board chairman of Rwanda Finance Limited, who stressed the importance of innovation in driving growth. This dialogue featured engaging discussions with leaders from the National Bank of Rwanda and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, focusing on regulatory alignment as a significant challenge in scaling the fintech sector and pointing towards solutions for the future.
Running parallel to these discussions, the FinTech without Borders initiative encouraged dialogue on collaboration within the Global South to unleash fintech’s potential. Sessions involving the role of international financial centers and African unicorns fostered optimism about Africa’s opportunities and emphasized the need for a conducive regulatory environment for entrepreneurs. Simultaneously, the Careers Forum played a crucial role in shaping the perspectives of the next generation of industry professionals by shedding light on the industry’s developments and future trends, including the role of artificial intelligence. The day concluded with a certificate presentation ceremony for nearly 400 students and young professionals who participated.
Day two: Spotlight on African leadership, emerging markets financing, and women in fintech
Day two of the Inclusive FinTech Forum saw esteemed presidential addresses, dialogues on emerging market financing, and discussions on inclusive growth through fintech. The day began with an impactful keynote by Richard Tusabe, the Minister of State in charge of the National Treasury of Rwanda, highlighting the vital role of fintech in the country’s economy and investment strategy. The event also featured a roundtable focused on rethinking licensing to promote fintech for good, emphasizing the need to balance regulation and innovation.
The day’s highlights were the special addresses by Hakainde Hichilema, President of Zambia, and Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda. Both leaders echoed the necessity of embracing technology for Africa’s inclusive development. Additionally, the FinTech for Good session included speeches by Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Tidjane Thiam, from Rwanda Finance Limited, and Achim Steiner, UNDP administrator, discussing the promise of fintech in Africa and the importance of cross-border interoperability.
The day concluded with a session headlined by Jeannette Kagame, First Lady of Rwanda, stressing the importance of female representation in fintech. Key announcements were made, including the licensing of Rwandan Fintech MVend by the National Bank of Rwanda and a partnership between the Africa FinTech Network and FinTech Association of South Africa.
Day three: A successful conclusion with concrete steps towards inclusive and sustainable finance
Day three started with a captivating panel discussion that explored the readiness of technology to meet financial inclusion goals. Distinguished panelists underscored the necessity for regulators and fintech companies to work together and identify sectors within the financial industry that would benefit from digital innovation. They unanimously agreed on the opportunity for fintech to create a significant impact in areas traditionally overlooked by standard financial service providers. The panel emphasized the potential for fintech to solve existing issues that banks couldn’t address, while also cautioning not to place excessive focus on technology at the cost of understanding cultural and customer nuances.
The day continued with sessions highlighting the development of digital public goods and infrastructure, opportunities, and risks in the digital currency and blockchain ecosystem, and the importance of capital market infrastructure for emerging markets. Each session offered invaluable insights, ranging from adopting digital ID strategies while ensuring data protection and privacy to the potential of central bank digital currencies and blockchain technology in transforming traditional finance. These discussions echoed the essence of the forum: the need for inclusive, sustainable financial solutions.
The closing remarks by Antony Ruddenklau, partner of KPMG International, reaffirmed this commitment by outlining five key objectives for the forum’s future and announcing the production of a report on the forum’s outcomes. Day three also saw the signing of strategic partnerships and statements of intent, demonstrating the forum’s tangible commitment to fintech’s sustainable and inclusive future.
A shared commitment to change: Unveiling the future of fintech post-forum
After three days of robust discourse, strategic partnerships, and commitment to shared objectives, the Inclusive FinTech Forum in Kigali concluded with a resounding affirmation of the role of financial technology in creating a more equitable and sustainable world. The forum served as a significant milestone in the evolution of fintech, sparking meaningful dialogue and fostering connections among global leaders, policymakers, investors, and industry innovators.
As the curtain fell on this seminal event, it was evident that the Inclusive FinTech Forum had ignited a powerful movement. The strategic alliances formed and commitments made at the forum underscore the collective dedication towards leveraging fintech for the greater good. As we look ahead, the forum’s influence will continue to shape the evolution of fintech, reminding us of our shared commitment to use technology as a force for inclusive growth and sustainability.