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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.
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.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having an adverse impact on Rwanda’s economy, despite a sizeable policy response. Output in 2020 is projected to contract by 0.2 percent, compared to an 8 percent increase expected pre-pandemic. The government’s early actions helped contain the spread of the virus and mitigate its economic impact, supported by financing from Rwanda’s development partners, including from the IMF under the RCF. With the number of infections contained, the authorities are gradually easing up containment measures.
Ms. Ghada Fayad, Chengyu Huang, Yoko Shibuya, and Peng Zhao
This paper applies state-of-the-art deep learning techniques to develop the first sentiment index measuring member countries’ reception of IMF policy advice at the time of Article IV Consultations. This paper finds that while authorities of member countries largely agree with Fund advice, there is variation across country size, external openness, policy sectors and their assessed riskiness, political systems, and commodity export intensity. The paper also looks at how sentiment changes during and after a financial arrangement or program with the Fund, as well as when a country receives IMF technical assistance. The results shed light on key aspects on Fund surveillance while redefining how the IMF can view its relevance, value added, and traction with its member countries.
Majid Bazarbash
Recent advances in digital technology and big data have allowed FinTech (financial technology) lending to emerge as a potentially promising solution to reduce the cost of credit and increase financial inclusion. However, machine learning (ML) methods that lie at the heart of FinTech credit have remained largely a black box for the nontechnical audience. This paper contributes to the literature by discussing potential strengths and weaknesses of ML-based credit assessment through (1) presenting core ideas and the most common techniques in ML for the nontechnical audience; and (2) discussing the fundamental challenges in credit risk analysis. FinTech credit has the potential to enhance financial inclusion and outperform traditional credit scoring by (1) leveraging nontraditional data sources to improve the assessment of the borrower’s track record; (2) appraising collateral value; (3) forecasting income prospects; and (4) predicting changes in general conditions. However, because of the central role of data in ML-based analysis, data relevance should be ensured, especially in situations when a deep structural change occurs, when borrowers could counterfeit certain indicators, and when agency problems arising from information asymmetry could not be resolved. To avoid digital financial exclusion and redlining, variables that trigger discrimination should not be used to assess credit rating.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes Kenya’s success in boosting financial inclusion. Kenya has become a regional and global leader in mobilizing new technologies to advance financial inclusion, poverty reduction, and growth. The rapid progress of financial inclusion in Kenya has been a result of a friendly environment for the absorption of information technology, dynamic local banks, and open and stable regulations. Advances in financial inclusion over the past 10 years have allowed Kenyans to reap many of the benefits of financial access at a much faster pace than the typical cycle of financial deepening in low- and middle-income countries. Mobile financial services have lowered the transaction cost of remittances, allowing Kenyan households to smooth consumption in the face of shocks and significantly reducing poverty.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes the performance and vulnerabilities of Qatar’s nonfinancial corporate (NFC) sector. Qatar’s NFC sector is sizable in terms of the overall share of economic activity. The total turnover of these companies was US$ 28 billion in 2016. Assets of listed and non-listed NFCs in Qatar were estimated at about 115 percent of non-hydrocarbon GDP in 2016. Although profitability of Qatari corporates, as measured by Return on Equity and Return on Assets, has declined, it is still high. Qatari companies remain resilient in the face of moderate to severe interest and earnings shocks, as median Interest Coverage Ratio of Qatari firms remains well above 1. The impact of these shocks on debt-at-risk and firms-at-risk is also limited.
International Monetary Fund. Communications Department

Abstract

Address at the Bank of England Twentieth Anniversary Conference London, U.K. September 29, 2017 International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde delivered this address at the Bank of England conference, “Independence—20 Years On” in London, U.K., on September 29, 2017.