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IV Meeting of the Fintech Forum

Digital format, March 23-25, 2021.



On October 2017, CEMLA presented the Initiative to establish the Fintech Forum, to its Board of Governors and Assembly of Central Bank’s Governors of Latin America and the Caribbean. This regional initiative aims at promoting the exchange of knowledge and experience of central banks, international organizations and other relevant institutions, in order to analyze the dimensions and implications of the fintech phenomenon in central banking mandates. The Forum is envisaged to address strategic challenges that financial innovation entails for monetary and financial stability, and for the proper functioning of central banks of Latin America and the Caribbean.


The Fintech Forum held its IV plenary meeting from March 23 to 25, 2021, to keep promoting the sharing of experiences and knowledge regarding the evolution of financial technologies and their implications for the central banking community. The meeting was attended by over 120 participants representing Latin American and Caribbean Central Banks, and representatives from the industry and major multilateral organizations.

This fourth gathering served to discuss on CBDC, global stablecoins, bigtechs and sustainable digital finance.

Opening speech
Dr. Manuel Ramos-Francia, Director General of CEMLA

Dr. Ramos-Francia delivered an opening speech to the Forum on foundational aspects of money and the possible introduction of both, public and private digital forms of fiat money. He surveyed the policy implications and challenges of digital money, from the angle of monetary and financial stability. During his speech, Dr. Ramos-Francia explored how relevant is the role of public institutions to safeguard the trustworthiness of fiat money. In particular, he underlined that a widespread use of a market-based digital currency may jeopardize the attributes of fiat money; as such, a central, strong, and reputable institution has been proven to be necessary to control the creation of money. But besides concerns of economic nature, Dr. Ramos-Francia underlined that there are relevant technological issues that a digital currency could pose, including higher risks of losing data privacy or greater exposure to cyber threats, and the possible negative outcomes of making less interoperable the retail financial and payment services. As a case in point, he referred to Global Stablecoins and Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC). The former could represent a technological revolution in cross-border payment arrangements but a danger for weak sovereign currencies, leading central banks to take a more active role in the provision of a public infrastructure. This is the case of CBDCs, which are gaining traction worldwide. Dr. Ramos-Francia concluded his speech by remarking that CBDCs are not completely exempt from risks associated with private digital monies, thus central banks must act beyond cautious.

Session 1. Central Bank Digital Currencies: from design to implementation

This session had Professor Emeritus Charles Kahn, from University of Illinois as introductory speaker. Prof. Kahn presented a comprehensive overview of the implications, design aspects and policy concerns related to the implementation of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). He underlined that innovation in payments has been always present, but this time is different given the major role for central banks to actively drive a major transformation of money and payments with a CBDC. He identified five potential drivers for central banks to consolidate a CBDC roadmap. These drivers are: Innovation in retail payments; Replacing cash; Improving monetary policy at zero-lower-bound; Financial inclusion; Simplifying wholesale transactions; and Improving payment from government to citizens. His presentation focused on the drivers and implications for emerging market economies. For instance, he noted that CBDC should help protecting jurisdictions from a potential dollarization (with Global Stablecoin initiative like Diem), but also need that a CBDC should be like cash, universally accessible and that central banks should have readily available technological resources for its potential issuance. Professor Kahn concluded his presentation with a proposal for CBDC to serve as the interoperability bridge to interlink existing retail payment systems as well as to develop the technical resources to ensure stability for off-line and scalability features of a CBDC. His proposal also bears an important role for central bank to strike a balance between privacy and integrity of CBDC users. To conclude, Prof. Kahn underlined that the private sector should play an active role in developing CBDC-related use cases, while the most basic features should be owned and run by the central bank.

The session comprised a set of three presentations from central bank practitioners working in CBDC projects. Francisco Rivadeneyra, from Bank of Canada; Sharmyn Powell, from Eastern Caribbean Central Bank; and, Andrej Bachmann, from European Central Bank shared their views and relevant insights from their respective central banks’ projects for CBDC.

Mr. Rivadeneyra remarked that there are new challenges motivating central banks to further study the relevance of a CBDC. This relates to how a CBDC could spur innovation of financial services (e.g. programmability) or enhance competition in retail financial services by helping to set standards. He also mentioned that the features of privacy and universal access pose major challenges from a design and implementation point of view. Within this challenging scenario, Mr. Rivadeneyra mentioned the importance of cooperation for adoption, competition and stability in the process of CBDC implementation. As part of this, he underlined the potential effects on financial intermediation and private-provisioning of payment services, that makes necessary to ensure an appropriate degree of cooperation with incumbents, new agents and the central bank.

Mrs. Powell shared the most recent developments in the implementation of the CBDC project of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, named DCash. She presented some of the most relevant features of the implemented system and the ecosystem that is being built to ensure a massive full adoption by 2025. She started by pointing out that improving the efficiency of the overall payments system, fostering financial inclusion by digital enablement and promoting competitiveness and innovations, are the overarching objectives of the project. The DCash is a project that embraces important CBDC features like network security, data privacy, ease of use and full availability, as noted by Mrs. Powell. In her presentation, it was mentioned the effect of the COVID-19 in the rolling out of the project that allow the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank to enhance relevant features and dress rehearsals for the private sector. She concluded by sharing an adoption and usage forecast of DCash and other payment instruments, including (physical cash) for the next few years.

The session concluded with the presentation of Andrej Bachmann on the digital Euro initiative. Mr. Bachmann present a global picture of the project, noting that would seek synergies with the industry to make available a digital form of central bank money for citizens. Mr. Bachmann pointed out that the digital euro is a response to the sovereignity concerns relative to foreign private digital means of payment like Global Stablecoins. He mentioned that the stakeholders have identified that privacy, safety and outreach, are the most important aspects to have in mind for the future steps to be taken concerning the digital Euro. Mr. Bachmann concluded his presentation by sharing that besides consultation with relevant stakeholders, the European Central Bank continues to explore conceptual work and practical experimentation of specific CBDC design functions that could shape the digital Euro.

Session 2. Interoperability and digital payments

This second session of the Fintech Forum focused on the role of digital payment and financial services to rethink and improve the interoperability of the retail payments landscape. The presentations made by Harish Natarajan, from World Bank; Iddo de Jong, European Central Bank; and Angelo Duarte, from Banco Central do Brasil, counted to understand better the implications and opportunities of new financial technologies to have a more competitive and inclusive access to the financial system, especially in what relates to retail payment services as the gateway to other retail financial services.

Mr. Natarajan provided the Forum Members with an outlook of what central banks can expect from the fintech companies in terms of the current interoperability arrangements and standards for the provision of key retail financial services. First, he described why interoperability is important for promoting competition, reducing fixed costs, enabling economies of scale and, enhancing convenience for financial services users. He continue by describing three levels of interoperability: 1) harmonization that comprises Open Banking and APIs as triggers of new ways of using permissioned data of users, and it also relates to the workflows of identification, verification and authentication of transactions under common global standards; 2) integration of new and existing infrastructure given important developments in fast payment systems, CBDC technical platforms and other centralized and decentralized infrastructures that need to be fully communicated; and 3) governance considerations to streamline the public and private coordination, and the improvement of access to relevant financial infrastructures that act as a public good.

Mr. de Jong explained the situation for the single Euro payments area and the recent innovation in payments that has led to important changes in terms of interoperability arrangements. He noted that the ECB is concerned about the need to keep the retail payments market efficient, competitive and supporting of digitization of the economy. As such, he underlined that a more interoperable payments market would lead to efficiency gains in the retail payments services, stimulating consumption amid the COVID-19 crisis. He identified the areas of the SEPA policy that still requires work from relevant stakeholders, including the lacking interoperability of certain payment infrastructures, the lagging of cards standardization and lacking of digital ID and e-signature solutions. Mr de Jong concluded his presentation by explaining the strategy taken by the ECB to fill these gaps, including the impulse to develop pan-European solutions for each type of point of interaction (small shops, online purchases, etc.), a full deployment of instant payment schemes and the improvement of cross-border payment systems.

Mr. Duarte finalized the session by providing a detailed overview of how the innovation in retail financial and payment services have helped to spur a more competitive and interoperable payments market in Brazil. He first explained that the domestic fintech market has raised in the last few years and currently over 300 fintech companies operated in the provision of lending and payment services, but most of them are not regulated. Despite their status, this industry has helped to respond timelier to the COVID-19 to allow citizens to access emergency funds and have also been instrumental in making more competitive the payments market. Second, he described how relevant is for the central bank to understand the business models of fintech companies to harness the potential of their activities for a more inclusive and interoperable financial system. For instance, he illustrated that digital financial services provided by fintech companies could be unfolding better credit opportunities for unbanked population, but this deserves special attention by authorities to learn where the risk could be. Mr. Duarte concluded his presentation by describing how PIX, a central bank initiative, is making possible to improve interoperability in a wide and complex digital payments market by providing a neutrality layer that foster innovation on open- and closed-loop payment schemes. He remarked that PIX has enabled a unique settlement and identification platform in which over 700 of authorized participants are interplaying with additional financial services and the adoption by users is positively onward.

Keynote presentation: Big techs, central banks and the structure of financial intermediation

As a keynote speaker, Professor Hyun Shin, Economic Adviser of the Bank for International Settlements discussed how new financial technologies could shift traditional financial and payment services, from walled gardens to open public squares, requiring an active role of the central banks to harness the potential of fintech for a more competitive and inclusive financial system, operating under the cornerstones of financial stability and integrity. His discussion was framed by what he coined the DNA loop: Data, Network; Analysis. This is a circle that could be virtuous in the times of a deep digital transformation, but should be properly understood and regulated to avoid that the participation of large nonbank technological firms -displaying a global footprint- result in undesirable vulnerabilities. Professor Shin surveyed the opportunities of improving the management and portability of payments data by means of APIs, as one of the many growing examples. In terms of finance, he illustrated how data science is becoming a helpful tool to improve regulatory compliance. The keynote concluded with a rich discussion of the future financial system and the role to be played by central banks.


Session 3. Bigtech and Global Stablecoins: regulatory challenges

The session on the challenges of Bigtechs and Global Stablecoins for central banks and other relevant authorities served to deepen the discussion proposed by Dr. Ramos-Francia and Professor Shin on the foundational aspects of money, the role of new technologies and the imperative global action to preserve the health of domestic financial systems. In particular, to better understand the opportunities and challenges of creating open public squares without frontiers, especially from a regulatory and coordination point of view, with regard to the operation of Global Stablecoins like Diem.

The session was conformed by Christian Catalini, from Diem; David Mills, from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Fed); and Alexandre Stervinou, from the Financial Stability Board.

The presentation by Mr. Catalini helped to deep dive in the complex economics of Diem, based on decentralized technologies. This Global Stablecoin is designed to work on blockchain technology to improve the verification and network costs that are tipically high in centralized platforms. In this respect, he noted that this design aspects are of particular relevance for payments and that Diem is thought as an alternative to improve these pain points. In doing so, Diem could be working as a trustworthy efficient medium of exchange and payments network, a sound protocol for market participants, and a reliable network with transparent governance arrangements. As part of its design, Mr. Catalini remarked the potential of Diem to serve as connector to multiple CBDC developments, which would reduce custody and credit risk in cross-border transactions. He explained how existing financial intermediation relationships would be key to ensure that a Global Stablecoins secure the network and its scalability. In fact, he referred to Diem as an open standard technology in which members, banks and fintech could compete on a level playing field for both, domestic and cross-border payments networks.

The session was continued by a discussion on the regulatory challenges that Mr. Mills presented. He pointed out that more than ever, central banks need to carefully assess the public-good nature of money and payments, to ensure the confidence of the public on the financial system. In particular, he illustrated the challenges of a situation in which money and payments are solely provided by the private sector, noting that credibility and reputation matter for a successful monetary scheme. As part of this, Mr. Mills stated that the question for Global Stablecoins is whether safety and soundness measures are sufficient to provide a near perfect substitute for central bank money absent deposit insurance, and whether such a scheme does not introduce unnecessary risks to sound payment infrastructures. His presentation concluded with a number of questions on how existing regulation apply to Global Stablecoins. For instance, he noted that possible implementations falling out traditional entity-based regulation, would require the formation of regulation based on activity, but for which cooperation overseas by regulators will be critical. 

The final presentation of this session was delivered by Mr. Stervinou, who elaborated on the G20 recommendations to set a regulatory framewok for Stablecoins. In his presentation, it was underlined the fact that Bigtechs and Global Stablecoin arrangements are not far from being feasibly adopted as the market struggle to meet all users’ payment needs, in particular for cross-border payments. Depending on the role to be played by a Global Stablecoin arrangement, the policy implications could vary significantly as noted by Mr. Stervinou. For instance, if a Stablecoin is used as a store of value this would bring significant concerns on wealth and macrofinancial conditions for the financial system and the economy, while confidence and exposure would be more evident issues in cases where a Stablecoin performs as a payment infrastructure. In light of this, he concluded by emphasizing the importance of global coordination and the ongoing work by the Financial Stability Board to contribute to the G20 roadmap to enhance cross-border payments by working on an international standards framework to be developed in the coming years.

Session 4. Sustainable digital finance

In the fourth session was remarked the importance and the main challenges on the creation of greener digital finances. The session started with the presentation of Mattias Levin. He first mentioned the European Union actions to create more sustainable finances and that are mainly reflected in the European Green Deal. Mr. Levin mentioned that the main drivers for a transition in finance are climate crisis, digital transformation, and more recently, the pandemic. Then, it was presented its action plan on financing sustainable growth, which is based on three pillars: reorienting capital flow towards a more sustainable economy, mainstreaming sustainability into risk management, and fostering transparency in the long term. Also, Mr. Levin discussed the European Union digital finance strategy, where the main points were: create a regional regulatory framework which facilitates digital innovation, tackle fragmentation in the Digital Single Market, create a European financial data space, and addresses new challenges and risks. Finally, he discussed the potential avenues for policy action that ensures the greening of financial technologies.

The session continued with the presentation of Marianne Haahr, from Green Digital Finance Alliance. She focused on the trends for digital greener practices in the financial sector. The first trend discussed was the need to take advantage of Fintech to automate climate and nature disclosures by creating new models based on available economic and financial data, which is being implemented at different pace by jurisdictions, having China as the one with most progress in this regard. Next, the second trend discussed was the ability of Fintech to accelerate the decarbonisation of the most carbon intensive assets which are those related to real-state and food production. The third trend presented was that related to the creation and use of transaction data for automated carbon accounting on citizens’ behaviors for its day-by-day use, and help to shift to sustainable behaviors. The fourth trend presented was the use of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) to automate green bonds, she mentioned that this is mainly scaling in South East Asia in the sovereign bond market. The last trend discussed was the inclusion of Green Fintech Topic in policy and regulation, having Switzerland, China and Spain as notable examples.

The session end with the presentation of Francisco Benedito, from Climate Trade. He started by mentioning that during 2019, 50.8 billions of CO2 tons were emitted to the atmosphere. Then, it was mentioned that the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism fosters the decarbonisation and avoid carbon leakage in the European Union. Next, Benedito discussed on the appearance of a new generation of companies and consumers (pro-sumers) which are more conscious about the environment. Following it was presented some of the European macro regulatory approaches in terms of sustainability reporting and investment funds sustainable requirements. The presentation finalized by mentioning the purpose of the marketplace created by Climate Trade that focuses on disrupting traditional climate markets, where in addition to include sustainable projects make also use of blockchain. 

Conclusion of the meeting

The Fintech Forum concluded with a roundtable for Members to be updated on current developments of the regional central banking community to embrace the complex fintech phenomenon with a more active regulation and surveillance.


Tuesday, March 23

Welcome remarks
Dr. Manuel Ramos-Francia, Director General, CEMLA

Session 1. Central Bank Digital Currencies: from design to implementation

Moderated by Raúl Morales Reséndiz, CEMLA


Session 2. Interoperability and digital payments

Moderated by Raúl Morales Reséndiz, CEMLA


Wednesday, March 24

Keynote lecture. Big techs, central banks and structure of financial intermediation.
Dr. Hyun Song Shin, Bank for International Settlements

Moderated by Serafín Martínez-Jaramillo, CEMLA


Session 3. Bigtech and Global Stablecoins: regulatory challenges

Moderated by Serafín Martínez-Jaramillo, CEMLA


Thursday, March 25

Session 4. Sustainable digital finance

Moderated by José Manuel Marqués, Banco de España


Roundtable on challenges ahead and Fintech Forum’s initiatives

Moderated by Raúl Morales Reséndiz, CEMLA



Dr. Hyun-Song Shin
Bank for International Settlements (BIS)

Dr. Hyun Song Shin took up the position of Economic Adviser and Head of Research at the BIS on 1 May 2014. Before joining the BIS, Dr Shin was the Hughes-Rogers Professor of Economics at Princeton University. In 2010, on leave from Princeton, he served as Senior Adviser to the Korean president, taking a leading role in formulating financial stability policy in Korea and developing the agenda for the G20 during Korea's presidency. From 2000 to 2005, he was Professor of Finance at the London School of Economics. In addition to his academic positions, Shin served as an advisor to Bank of England (2000–2005) and is a member of the Financial Advisory Roundtable at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and a panel member of the U.S. Monetary Policy Forum since 2007. He is a Research Fellow of the Centre for Economic Policy Research since 1998. Shin was the Chairman of Editorial Board of the Review of Economic Studies from 1999 to 2003. He holds a DPhil and MPhil in Economics from Oxford University (Nuffield College) and a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the same university. Dr. Shin’s fields of interest are: macroeconomics, finance and international economics.


Christian Catalini

Mr. Christian Catalini is co-creator of Diem (formerly Libra), and the Chief Economist of the Diem Association. In his role as Associate Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he founded the MIT Cryptoeconomics Lab and designed the MIT Digital Currency Research Study. He is also a Faculty Research Fellow in the Productivity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Christian's research focuses on blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, and he previously worked on the economics of equity crowdfunding and startup growth, and the economics of scientific collaboration.


David Mills
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Mr. Mills is deputy associate director at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington, D.C. His responsibilities include the Board’s payments research and retail payments, and he co-leads an internal effort within the Federal Reserve System that is looking at digital innovations in the area of payments, clearing, and settlement. Mills has been studying developments in digital currencies and distributed ledger technologies for several years, has contributed to international work on the topics, and led a Federal Reserve research team that produced a paper on the use of distributed ledger technology in payments, clearing, and settlement. He also has published several articles related to payments and monetary theory.

Alexandre Stervinou
Financial Stability Board (FSB)

Alexandre Stervinou is currently a member of the Financial Stability Board (FSB) Secretariat, where he mostly deals with innovation related matters on the G20 agenda. His main focus in the last two years has been on BigTechs, cloud services, cross-border payments and stablecoins. Prior to this, Alex was the Head of the Non-cash Means of Payment Oversight division at Banque de France, in charge of policy and oversight issues for cashless payments. In this role, he was the Secretary of the Observatory for the Security of Payment Means, chaired by the Governor of Banque de France, and Secretary of the National Payments Committee in charge of executing the national payment strategy elaborated with the French Treasury in 2015. He has been representing the central bank since 2008 in various international and European committees related to payments and innovation, notably working with his team on European regulation and oversight frameworks. Alex started his career in the private sector, with a focus on IT security solutions mainly for the financial services and telecom industry.