Highlights & updates


Martina Szabo

How have financial systems adapted to COVID-19?

The Forum's Global Future Council on Financial and Monetary Systems has shared an analysis of how financial systems have rapidly adapted to the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, provided support for various stakeholders - and transformed as a result.

1. The growing focus on partnerships

  • Partnerships between financial institutions and technology firms have accelerated access to funding and expanded access to products to previously underserved populations.
  • More work is needed to fully realize the potential of partnership models across the ecosystem, including partnerships between industry and the public sector.

2. The evolution of fintech

  • The fintech ecosystem has undergone a severe shake-up and certain trends are emerging: payment companies, for example, seem to be benefiting from the rapid adoption of digital payments, while digital banks have come under pressure.
  • Fintech has also moved into the public sector arena and is being leveraged to develop public financial infrastructure that enhances areas such as the provision of social services.
Impact on different fintech segments
Image: Figure adapted from CB Insights, “Covid-19 Has Scrambled Fintech’s Winners & Losers. Here’s The Short- & Long-Term Outlook”, Research Portal, 3 June 2020

3. The need for a global digital ID

  • Current systems of data and identity are disconnected, incoherent and opaque.
  • What is required is a system that is interoperable, apolitical, distributed and explainable - and one that grants individuals greater control over their information.
  • The pandemic has caused an unprecedented shift in digital payments.
  • The digitization of payments is not only providing benefits to consumers, it also presents immense opportunities for micro, small and medium enterprises.

5. Quantitative easing and inflating asset prices

  • Asset values have become distorted.
  • Market-derived pricing signals of the underlying health of the economy are being diluted and policy-makers must focus on redesigning tools that are again fit for purpose.

6. The transformation of regulatory capabilities and approaches

  • Regulators must deepen cooperation and continue to focus on technology as both a tool to facilitate regulatory compliance and as a challenge that requires the strengthening of cyber- and data-security standards.
  • The COVID-19 situation also highlighted once more the importance of limiting procyclicality in the financial system, and presents an opportunity to review remaining sources of cyclicality in regulation.

7. Implications for the financial services workforce

  • Remote-work technologies and digital products have helped minimize potential disruptions, but have also raised challenges, particularly with regard to cybersecurity.

Read the full white paper here.

Interoperability of COVID-19 "Return-to-Work" apps: An outline of the ecosystem challenges

There is a large and growing app ecosystem to help manage the return-to-work phase of the COVID-19 pandemic - covering everything from contact tracing to self-attestation and lab results.

One of the key questions that will need to be answered is how different apps communicate with one another as employees find themselves crossing borders between companies, as the scenario below outlines:

Image: World Economic Forum

This paper lays out the core challenges and current landscape, and offers suggestions for companies, governments and NGOs that are participating in this space.

Read the full paper here.