A speaker at Imperial College Business School this week told how Kenya is leading the way in digital finance.
Staff, students and alumni gathered to discuss the opportunities and challenges in digital finance, with a keynote speech by Professor Njuguna Ndung’u, the former governor of the Central Bank of Kenya.
Professor Ndung’u outlined the surprising story of how Kenya, a developing country, has been at the forefront of digital currency since a mobile phone-based money transfer service called M-Pesa was launched there in 2007 by Vodafone.
Looking at the growth of digital payment services in Kenya over the past 10 years, he observed that as more people in Kenya have mobile phones than bank accounts, it made sense to introduce a technological solution that allowed people to make financial transactions using their mobile phones.
Professor Ndung’u was a regulator of M-Pesa at the time. The regulators supported the technology despite initial opposition from the countries banks and as a result, millions of Kenyans, including those without access to bank accounts, are now part of a financial system that allows them greater independence.
“With London soon expected to become the hub of global fintech, this event was an ideal opportunity to address how digital finance is affecting consumers, businesses and the financial industry.
– Professor Andrei Kirilenko
Director of the Centre for Global Finance and Technology
The talk was followed by a panel discussion, moderated by Professor Franklin Allen, Executive Director of the Brevan Howard Centre for Financial Analysis, featuring the perspectives of leading experts in digital finance and technology including Imperial’s Professor Andrei Kirilenko, Director of the new Centre for Global Finance and Technology at the Business School and Professor Tommaso Valletti.
The wide-ranging discussion covered the business perspectives, policy issues and regulatory challenges facing the world of digital finance, including why Kenya has been successful where other countries have failed.
Commenting on the event, Professor Andrei Kirilenko, Director of the Centre for Global Finance and Technology at Imperial College Business School said: “With London soon expected to become the hub of global fintech, this event was an ideal opportunity to address how digital finance is affecting consumers, businesses and the financial industry. At Imperial College Business School we recognise the need for greater understanding of digital finance and our new research centre aims to help foster a new generation of fintech experts to meet the evolving business landscape.”
The event was organised by the Brevan Howard Centre for Financial Analysis and the new Centre for Global Finance and Technology, which aims to bring together leading academics to investigate the impact of technology on finance, business and society.