Excellencies, Women and Gents:
Good Morning, Good Afternoon! I’m happy to affix you on the Agile Regulation for Digital Transformation (A. Reg4DT) Webinar. Let me on the outset, specific my gratitude to the World Financial institution and its companions on this initiative for the invite.
Whereas on the one hand, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has upended lives and livelihoods, however, it has fostered digital transformation at an unprecedented scale. As digitalization has remodeled supply of providers for companies, governments and adjusted our lifestyle, regulators have been assessing the resultant alternatives and dangers. The A.Reg4DT initiative is opportune to develop the capability of regulators in Africa as digitalization transforms each aspect of our lives.
Certainly the world has modified dramatically from 2007, when cell phone cash switch providers had been launched in Kenya to fulfill primary monetary wants of transferring cash from city employees to their rural households. Subsequently, cell phones laid the digital rails, which have seen the transformation of economic inclusion not simply in Kenya however throughout Africa.
Shortly thereafter, was the worldwide monetary disaster from 2007, within the superior economies, predicated on extreme threat taking and the development at the moment of deregulation. Africa was largely spared the direct results of this disaster given its comparatively restricted linkages to international monetary markets at the moment. The main focus instantly after the disaster was the strengthening of the worldwide banking sector by enhancing capital and liquidity buffers, threat administration and an overhaul of company governance practices.
One of many spillover results of the worldwide monetary disaster was the emergence of decentralized finance (De-Fi). The promoters of De-Fi sought to leverage on the lack of belief in governments and monetary establishments notably in superior economies. This noticed the emergence of cryptocurrencies, headlined by Bitcoin, positioned as different fee devices.
This later morphed to stablecoins and extra not too long ago, there was the rising dialogue on Central Financial institution Digital Currencies (CBDCs). Just lately, cryptocurrencies have morphed into extra of wealth administration devices and fewer of fee devices. Amidst these developments within the international monetary area, got here the COVID-19 pandemic that has dominated international discourse over the past eighteen months. In contrast to the worldwide monetary disaster that was largely a sophisticated economic system phenomena, COVID-19 has prolonged its injury the world over. It has upended international lives and livelihoods and actually left nobody unscathed. However amidst the gloom and doom, human resilience powered by digital platforms has shone by.
In Africa, the digital rails constructed on cell phones have served us effectively, enabling official and private transfers to essentially the most susceptible segments of our inhabitants together with ladies, youth and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). Our monetary establishments, governments and companies have pivoted to digital platforms to adapt to the new regular occasioned by the pandemic. Within the Kenyan banking sector as an illustration, transactions exterior financial institution branches have elevated from 91 p.c earlier than the pandemic to over 96 p.c at present. Considerably, the variety of financial institution transactions on cell phones has elevated from 56 p.c to 85 p.c of all transactions.
As digitalization democratizes and transforms monetary providers to anytime anyplace entry by clients and new enterprise fashions emerge, regulators should adapt to the brand new terrain. On the Central Financial institution of Kenya (CBK), our regulatory philosophy has advanced to maximizing the alternatives offered by know-how and innovation whereas minimizing the dangers. This requires an agile method on our half which is the main target of our deliberations right this moment.
This leads me to the query of what does agile regulation imply? Permit me to spotlight three broad instructions to set the stage.
First, regulators have to stroll with the innovators. Reflecting again on the introduction of cell phone monetary providers, we at CBK adopted a take a look at and be taught method that sought to grasp the enterprise fashions, dangers and their mitigants. This method later developed the world over by the sandbox method.
Monetary providers are transferring from an institution-based method to an ecosystem method with incumbent regulated establishments on the centre. Agile fintechs are key companions within the ecosystems to supply cutting-edge improvements equivalent to credit score scoring and buyer relationship administration options primarily based on synthetic intelligence. Regulators should search progressive approaches to grasp these fintechs, mentor them and develop their threat administration capabilities.
On this regard, CBK partnered with the Financial Authority of Singapore (MAS) in 2019 to launch the Afro-Asia Fintech Competition to create a collaborative platform for African and Asian fintechs and regulators. On the again of this collaboration, two regional hackathons (competitions) drawing fintechs from throughout Africa had been performed in 2019 and 2020. These initiatives have supplied us beneficial insights into the workings of the budding fintech scene in Africa and proceed to be a helpful perception in our regulation and supervision of the rising fintech ecosystems.
Second, regulators must be alert to altering perimeters. Digitization is breeding a brand new era of providers that mimic monetary providers. Whereas these providers could result in enhanced entry for unserved and underserved segments of our populace, they pose appreciable client safety issues. A working example is the rising proliferation of unregulated digital lending purposes (apps).
These apps have been flying under the regulatory radar, as they aren’t deposit-taking, the standard threshold for regulators to take notice. Nonetheless, they’re posing monumental client safety issues as a result of amongst others excessive rates of interest, over indebtedness, unethical assortment practices and private knowledge abuse. Most significantly, these issues are spilling over to a lack of belief within the monetary system.
That is an space of concern in Kenya with Parliament on the tail finish of contemplating a invoice that may empower CBK to oversight unregulated digital lenders. Our method in regulating these entities will focus extra available on the market conduct issues versus the standard prudential issues of capital and liquidity.
Third, is nationwide, regional and worldwide co-operation. With the shift from institution-based monetary providers to ecosystems, alternatives and dangers will traverse nationwide and certainly regional boundaries. Regulators might want to co-ordinate, co-operate and share info. A working example is cybersecurity that’s more and more transnational in nature and requires a world circle of belief as a key countermeasure. Alternatively, the Large-Techs are more and more extending their attain to monetary providers with a world footprint. African regulators will must be on the international desk because the governance structure for the more and more pervasive Large-Techs is drawn up given the numerous spill over dangers.
As I draw to an in depth, the upskilling of regulators-their individuals, processes and systems-will be crucial within the new age of agile regulation. I subsequently look ahead to the rolling out of the A.Reg4DT programme throughout the continent to assist regulators as digitalization transforms the monetary providers map.