Digital payments are key implementation tool for Global Goals, say EU leaders
by Tidhar Wald, June 30, 2016
During this year’s European Development Days (EDDs), which took place in Brussels from 15-16 June, digital technologies and the digitization of payments emerged as key enablers for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Many speakers and leaders amongst the 6,000 gathered at the EDDs, agreed that while the private sector can develop the technological solutions, partnerships between companies, governments, donors and civil society groups are needed to achieve the common goals of sustainable development and making financial services accessible to all through digital means.
Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation and Digital Agenda, Alexander De Croo, urged the European Union and its member states to understand that “Digital technology is making it possible for the first time to realize the true definition of globalization.” He also noted that “the ability of citizens in the developing world to make payments by mobile phone, to access healthcare from a distance, or to enjoy online banking services, has created a multi-polar world in which it is no longer the North telling the South how it is done”.
De Croo spoke enthusiastically on how exciting new developments in the payments space were emerging from countries like Kenya and Bangladesh rather than the North. Indeed, digital technology is not yet officially part of the European Union’s development policy. The European Commission Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content & Technology (DG CONNECT) is focused on the internal EU Digital Single Market. While the EU invests some 32 billion euros a year in development funding, only EUR 150 million of that is connected to digital issues.
Providing concrete examples from her country, Togo’s Minister for Digital Economy, Cina Lawson, stressed how digital solutions were helping improve governance by increasing transparency. Minister Lawson shared how her government was providing subsidies to citizens through digital means of payments and how those technical solutions were not only saving costs and making operations more efficient but also increasing traceability of funds.
Andrus Ansip, the Vice President of the European Commission in charge of the Digital Single Market, responded by making a public call to his colleagues in charge of development funding that from now on “every EU development project should have a digital component”. The Better Than Cash Alliance welcomes this leadership!
About the Author
Head of Government Relations and Public Policy at Better Than Cash Alliance
Tidhar Wald is the Government and Corporation Relations Specialist at the U.N.-housed Better Than Cash Alliance, working with governments, companies, and organizations to transition from cash to digital payments.