Media Releases
Published Date: 14 November 2023

The International Finance Corporation, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the World Economic Forum Partner to Advance Digital Inclusion in Emerging and Developing Markets

Singapore, 14 November 2023… The International Finance Corporation (IFC), Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and World Economic Forum (the Forum) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on initiatives to advance digital inclusionDigital inclusion refers to the use of safe and meaningful digital technologies to provide equal and affordable access to essential services for underserved people and businesses, including but not limited to finance, health, education and employment for individuals, and trade, markets, and financing for MSMEs, particularly those owned by women. through financial services, with the aim of reducing inequalities for people and smaller businesses in emerging and developing economies.

2. The partnership will focus on finding ways to better mobilise financing to make digital services more affordable and accessible for underserved individuals and communities, and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), with the support of financial institutions and FinTech companies. This will include creating guidelines for digital financial inclusion financing instrumentsAn example could be a five-year digital inclusion bond, issued by a bank to support and empower a specified number of small businesses with access to e-commerce capabilities, online products, and digital educational resources. as well as efforts to promote the guidelines in the Asian market.

3. IFC, with its extensive network of financial institutions and financial-support mechanisms in emerging and developing markets, will drive the development of the guidelines, as a public knowledge piece, which may cover digital financial inclusion products, eligible assets, and measurement and reporting mechanisms. MAS will explore synergies with its other initiatives such as the SME Financial Empowerment and Financial Transparency Corridor Programmes to improve financing access for MSMEs in emerging markets. The Forum will leverage its deep international network of government and private sector partners to promote and share these new solutions and learnings.

4. “The challenge to improve digital inclusion for billions of people in emerging and developing markets is significant, and traditional financing mechanisms alone cannot address this challenge,” said Allen Forlemu, Regional Industry Director, Financial Institutions Group, Asia and the Pacific at IFC. “We need innovative financial instruments and guidelines to mobilise the trillions of dollars needed to improve digital inclusion. IFC is honoured to partner with MAS and the World Economic Forum to help address this challenge, which will ultimately benefit underserved people and businesses in countries that need it most.”

5. “MAS is proud to partner the International Finance Corporation and the World Economic Forum to collaborate in research for digital inclusion, which could allow previously underserved individuals and MSMEs to access digital information, services, and products consistently and affordably. Through this partnership, we hope to promote developments in emerging markets, support quality education and reduce inequalities,” said Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer at MAS.

6. “In September 2021, the EDISON Alliance – the World Economic Forum’s flagship initiative driving affordable and accessible digital services to underserved populations – released a ‘Guidebook to Digital Inclusion Bond Financing ’, highlighting how innovative financing mechanisms can be used to advance digital inclusion globally,” said Sebastian Buckup, Co-Head, Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum. “This timely partnership with IFC and MAS is vital to turning recommendations into actionable steps to channel financing towards digital public infrastructure, digital skills, and digital services for the underserved.”