International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
he Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is among the world’s major fintech hubs, well positioned to develop fintech initiatives from its traditional strengths in financial services. Key factors enabling the HKSAR to emerge as a fintech hub include its presence as an international financial center, its free-flowing talent and capital, a highly developed information and technology communication (ITC) infrastructure, and its most unique trait, a geographical and strategic advantage by proximity to the market in Mainland China.
Mr. Anton Korinek, Mr. Martin Schindler, and Joseph Stiglitz
Advances in artificial intelligence and automation have the potential to be labor-saving and to increase inequality and poverty around the globe. They also give rise to winner-takes-all dynamics that advantage highly skilled individuals and countries that are at the forefront of technological progress. We analyze the economic forces behind these developments and delineate domestic economic policies to mitigate the adverse effects while leveraging the potential gains from technological advances. We also propose reforms to the global system of governance that make the benefits of advances in artificial intelligence more inclusive.
Jose Deodoro, Mr. Michael Gorbanyov, Majid Malaika, and Tahsin Saadi Sedik
The era of quantum computing is about to begin, with profound implications for the global economy and the financial system. Rapid development of quantum computing brings both benefits and risks. Quantum computers can revolutionize industries and fields that require significant computing power, including modeling financial markets, designing new effective medicines and vaccines, and empowering artificial intelligence, as well as creating a new and secure way of communication (quantum Internet). But they would also crack many of the current encryption algorithms and threaten financial stability by compromising the security of mobile banking, e-commerce, fintech, digital currencies, and Internet information exchange. While the work on quantum-safe encryption is still in progress, financial institutions should take steps now to prepare for the cryptographic transition, by assessing future and retroactive risks from quantum computers, taking an inventory of their cryptographic algorithms (especially public keys), and building cryptographic agility to improve the overall cybersecurity resilience.
The latest advancement in financial technology has posed unprecedented challenges for incumbent banks. This paper analyzes the implications of these challenges on bank competitveness, and explores the factors that could support digital advancement in banks. The analysis shows that the traditionally leading role of banks in advancing financial technology has diminished in recent years, and suggests that onoing efforts to catch up to the digital frontier could lead to a more concentrated banking industry, as smaller and less tech-savvy banks struggle to survive. Cross-country evidence has suggested that banks in high-income economies appear to have been the digital leaders, likely benefiting from a sound digital infrastructure, a strong legal and business environment, and healthy competition. Nonetheless, some digital leaders may fall behind in the coming years in adopting newer technologies due to entrenched consumer behavior favoring older technologies, less active fintech and bigtech companies, and weak bank balance sheets.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift toward digital services. Meanwhile, the race for technological and economic leadership has heated up, with risks of decoupling that could set back trade and growth and hinder the recovery from the worst global recession since the Great Depression. This paper studies the conditions under which a country may seek to erect barriers—banning imports or exports of cyber technologies—and in effect promote decoupling or deglobalization. A well-known result is that banning imports may be optimal in monopolistic sectors, such as the digital sector. The novel result of this paper is that banning exports can also be optimal, and in some cases superior, as it prevents technological diffusion to a challenger that may eventually become the global supplier, capturing monopoly rents and posing cybersecurity risks. However, export or import bans would come at a deleterious cost to the global economy. The paper concludes that fostering international cooperation, including in the cyber domain, could be key to avoiding technological and economic decoupling and securing better livelihoods.
Policy makers in the MENAP region have been formulating policies and designing programs to develop small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) with a view to create jobs and achieve inclusive growth. But while the programs have helped increase the number of enterprises, growth of SMEs continues to face barriers to growth. As a result, microenterprises predominate and SMEs contribution to employment remains below potential. Partial implementation of reforms explain some of the underperformance, but frictions in strategy design also played an important role. Sustaining current reforms is, therefore, not sufficient to achieve inclusive growth. Digital technologies have potential to boost SMEs productivity and growth and economies are rapidly digitalizing, thus SMEs need to embrace digital solutions to compete and survive. Therefore, for SMEs to be effective engines of inclusive growth, a rethinking of the SME development strategy is needed that makes SMEs’ digital transformation a priority.