Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, spoke at the Singapore Fintech Festival 2018 on 14 November and made the case for a new central bank-backed digital currency for financial inclusion, security and consumer protection
November 14, 2018 | Christine Lagarde
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen—good morning and thank you for the opportunity to participate in this important event.
In Singapore, it is often windy. Winds here bring change, and opportunity. Historically, they blew ships to its port. These resupplied while waiting for the Monsoon to pass, for the seasons to change.
“Change is the only constant,” wrote the ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus of Ephesus.
Singapore knows this. You know this. It is the true spirit of the Fintech Festival—opening doors to new digital futures; hoisting sails to the winds of change.
And yet change can appear daunting, destabilizing, even threatening. This is especially true for technological change, which disrupts our habits, jobs, and social interactions.
The key is to harness the benefits while managing the risks.
When it comes to fintech, Singapore has shown exceptional vision—think of its regulatory sandbox where new ideas can be tested. Think of its Fintech Innovation Lab, and its collaboration with major central banks on cross-border payments.
In this context, I would like to do three things this morning:
- First, frame the issue in terms of the changing nature of money and the fintech revolution.
- Second, evaluate the role for central banks in this new financial landscape—especially in providing digital currency.
- Third, look at some downsides, and consider how they can be minimized.
1. The changing nature of money and the fintech revolution
Let me begin with the big issue on the table today—the changing nature of money.
When commerce was local, centered around the town square, money in the form of tokens—metal coins—was sufficient. And it was efficient.
The exchange of coins from one hand to another settled transactions. So long as the coins were valid—determined by glancing, scratching, or even biting...
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, Financial Inclusion