At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, this morning, the Better Than Cash Alliance hosted a roundtable discussion with Juan Jiménez Mayor, Prime Minister, Republic of Peru, Dr. Mauricio Cárdenas, Minister of Finance, Republic of Colombia, Florencio B. Abad, Secretary of Budget and Management, Republic of the Philippines, sponsored by Citi and Visa Inc.
The room was full of over 50 thought leaders from the government, banking, information technology, NGO, agriculture and consumer industries discussing the exciting global movement to shift the world away from cash to electronic payments.
The rich roundtable discussion led by The Economist’s Economics Editor, Zanny Minton Beddoes discussed how the transition from cash to electronic payments has the ability to achieve shared goals in emerging markets of increasing transparency and combating corruption, reducing costs and accelerating financial inclusion as well as stimulating long-term economic growth.
“Electronic payments are a powerful tool in development,” said Prime Minister Mayor. With Florencio B. Abad, Secretary of Budget and Management, Republic of the Philippines adding that “digitization of government promotes transparency.”
Insightful thoughts about the benefits and challenges of making this transition were shared by Bill Sheedy, Group President, Americas, Visa Inc., Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director, United Nations World Food Programme, Neal Keny-Guyer, Chief Executive Officer, Mercy Corps, Yawar Shah, Chairman of the Board of Directors, SWIFT and Marc Bichler, Executive Director of UNCDF and many others.
In response to an audience question about the role of governments in accelerating the pace of change, Minister Dr. Mauricio Cárdenas, Minister of Finance and Public Credit, Republic of Colombia said, “Sometimes governments get in the way,” and shared Colombia’s plan to reduce transaction taxes and promote smart regulation to achieve their vision.
We know that partnerships are critical to our success. Together, with our founding organizations, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Citi, Ford Foundation, Omidyar Network, UNCDF, USAID and Visa Inc., we are pleased to welcome even more partners to the Alliance that are dedicated to making this transition a reality.
Our newest partner is the government of Afghanistan who will join the governments of Colombia, Kenya, Peru and the Philippines in a commitment to transition from cash to electronic payments. We hope many of our colleagues from the World Economic Forum will join us too.
Sharing the mission of the Better Than Cash Alliance with many of the attendees at the World Economic Forum has created even more momentum behind the movement to transition to electronic payments. With 2.5 billion adults—more than a third of the world’s population—excluded from the formal financial sector, we are determined to quickly move this transition forward making real progress in the year ahead.