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Transformative Impact of Fintech on SMEs: Insights from the Annual Investment Meeting Congress

8 May 2024

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Abu Dhabi, 8 May 2024: Financial technology (fintech) has a crucial and transformative impact on innovation and entrepreneurship, including on cross-border payments and the internationalisation of SMEs, said Dr Giulia Ajmone-Marsan, Head of Startup and Inclusion Programs at ERIA’s Digital Innovation and Sustainable Economy Centre, during her participation in the panel titled ‘Export Priorities for Local SMEs: Market Access Strategies.’ This panel session was organised by the International Network of SMEs as part of the Annual Investment Meeting congress, one of the world’s leading investment platforms.

Dr Ajmone Marsan referenced World Bank data, indicating that fintech has enabled over 1 billion people worldwide to access financial services, particularly benefiting the unbanked population in emerging markets across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

‘Sometimes, trends are influenced by demographic patterns, such as a young, tech-savvy population adept at utilising technology and mobile phones,’ said Dr Ajmone Marsan, highlighting how the fintech ecosystems in emerging markets are leapfrogging more advanced economies in terms of fintech deployment and adoption.

In Southeast Asia, she pointed out, ‘Tech unicorns, often represented by ride-hailing companies, now know very well the consumption patterns of their customers and are able to use data to offer microloans or microinsurance, effectively mitigating risks.’ Notably, Gojek, a prominent ride-hailing platform founded in Indonesia, introduced Gopay initially as a payment method for their services and has since expanded to provide microloan and microinsurance services. Beyond Southeast Asia, fintech development has sometimes been driven by public sector institutions. For example, the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) in India is a digital platform that enables QR code payments both domestically and cross-border. In Brazil, the Central Bank's open finance regulation facilitated the creation of PIX, an instant payment technology.

The event was opened by Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, member of the Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, and Andry Rajoelina, President of Madagascar. High-level ministerial delegations from the Middle East, Africa and Asia were represented at the meetings. The panel was moderated by Giovanni Zazzerini, Secretary General of INSMEs.

On the sidelines of the congress, Dr Ajmone Marsan held additional meetings with Lishia Erza Budiman from the Permanent Committee for International Industry Access of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KADIN Indonesia), as well as representatives from the World Economic Forum and the startup community from Eastern Africa and the Middle East.

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