Fintech’s Key Role In The Global Digital Economy
By Dr. Ingrid Vasiliu Feltes
Globalist, Futurist and Digital Ethics Advocate
Global Digital Economy is a term that aims to encompass the status of technological development, as well as the size of digital markets and their potential for future development. The digital infrastructure, digital services, digital jobs and type of digital content generated are important domains in shaping the digital economy ecosystem. The share and growth of digital revenue, percent of internet penetration, number of broadband or mobile subscriptions are all important indicators that must be considered when evaluating various regional markets.
The global digital transformation market is estimated to be with $3,294B by 2025 and to growth at a CAGR of 22.7% according to a recent newswire report. All industries will be affected and will play a role in this global transformation ion process, however the fintech industry is considered to be a key driver.
Fintech can, will and should have a complex role. Legacy financial institutions will continue to face marked disruption, we will witness an increased trend of large scale alliances, banks will be forced to forge new partnerships with agile novel market entrants.
The pandemic has also triggered an accelerated pace of mobile payments, digital assets and digital currency adoption which have all forced many organizations to embark in the digital transformation journey.
The exponential rate of novel technologies will also continue to fuel fintech innovation, cause fierce competition and can lead to major disruptions of the global financial ecosystem as the demand for digital finance and financial technological services increases even in emerging markets.Blockchain technologies, IoT, 5G, and next generation computing such as quantum, edge or DNA computing are poised to further augment the portfolio of fintech services.
The deployment of these emerging technologies across multiple sectors and industries stimulates the production and trade of digitally enabled goods and services which are the foundation of a digital economy.
We are also witnessing a major impact on investment trends. The massive global hyper-connectivity, digitalization, use of internet platforms and dominance of e-commerce will likely continue to influence investment polices, as well as promote interoperability and portability.
In several economies policymakers will have to balance between re-shoring, diversification, regionalization and replication of investments.
Several international organizations have recognized the importance of measuring the digital economy impact and a need to develop standards and frameworks that can be used globally.
Examples are the European Union, OECD, UNCTAD, ITU, IMF, G20 which provide a wide range of metrics, indicators and indices that assess digital infrastructure, impact on our society, level of digital innovation and adoption, Job creation and economic growth.
According to the United Nations World Investment Report companies that perform activities based internet or those that provide the infrastructure supporting the internet have captured increased shares of foreign investments over the past few years.
Whereas the investments used to focus mostly on the ICT (information and communication technologies) sector and digital firms we are now observing a cross-industry increase. It is interesting to note the Foreign Direct Investment post-pandemic predictions which highlight that there will be tightening margins, reduced cross-border mergers and acquisitions, and a downturn on reinvested earnings. The same report also points towards marked regional differences, with transition economies suffering the hardest pandemic losses.
Barriers and Challenges
The legal and regulatory barriers encountered are quite significant and require close collaboration amongst all stakeholders such as governments, academia, private industry and NGOs in order to be successful. Bridging the digital divide caused by geographic, socio-cultural and economic differences is also on the agenda of many international forums.
Restructuring the education system, as well as re-skilling or up-skilling the workforce in order to meet the demand of the digital economy are other challenging domains we are facing globally.
In a recent report published by Accenture the skills required to master inclusion in the digital economy have four defining features: digital & human interaction, knowledge and task based, flexible and fluid, cooperative and collaborative. Digital literacy is considered a foundational skill and key in achieving large scale fintech adoption, as it can reduce the “double disadvantage” many vulnerable populations experience.
The Fintech ecosystem is uniquely positioned to influence and empower a strong digital economy, however there is also an implied expectation to drive policy and economic governance, embrace diversity and inclusion and ensure ethical deployment of emerging technologies that are foundational to the global digital architecture. A focus on the environment, the potential social implications and a state of the art data governance will be an imperative for the digital era economy. Measuring, tracking and continuously improving the impact fintech can have on the digital economy will be essential for long term success.