In the past decade, fintech has shaken up the financial sector in Latin America providing innovations in lending, payments, insurance, and regulation and compliance. This paper examines this development by focusing on both fintech services and regulation. Exploring fintech’s macro-critical impact using country- and bank-level data, we find that booming financial technologies in Latin America have helped boost competition in the banking sector and inclusion. Additionally, we demonstrate that fintech firms in Latin America experienced robust growth even during the pandemic supported by external funding. Finally, we discuss how regulators are addressing the risks associated with financial technologies and how they are leveraging fintech tools in their supervisory activities.
Cross-border payments are expensive, slow, and opaque. These problems reflect multiple frictions, many of which boil down to limited trust among counterparties. Trust plays a central role in exchanging credit-based money. End users need to trust the issuers of money, and issuers must trust users to satisfy financial integrity requirements. Transactions are possible only where trust links exist. Interoperability between different forms of money can thus be conceptualized as the network of trusted links necessary for transactions. Traditionally, across borders, trust links involve exclusive bilateral credit relationships among correspondent banks. However, the fixed costs required to build these links foster an expensive and concentrated system. This paper interprets different payment arrangements in terms of the implied trust structures. It discusses how the tokenization of money alters trust links and allows for a potentially more efficient market structure to exchange money. The paper ends with a suggested global marketplace to trade tokenized money directly across borders.
Drawing on survey responses from 34 Asian economies and country case studies, this note takes stock of recent developments related to central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and crypto assets in Asia. The survey finds that there is significant heterogeneity in terms of stage of development, but the emergence of private crypto assets has created an impetus to consider CBDCs. While most countries are engaged in research and development, with some at advanced stages of testing and pilots, very few countries are likely to issue CBDCs in the near-to-medium term, reflecting the still considerable uncertainties. Still, country experiences so far provide some key insights for others in their journey in this area.