Sputnik: How important is the AFI Global Policy Forum? What contribution does it bring and what is its use for people?
Dirk Andreas Zetzsche: We all know that we have meanwhile 7 billion people on the planet and it is particularly important that most of these people have access to the financial system, because the financial system provides a lot of security that we would otherwise not have. Let's just keep into account, for instance, insurance contracts, let's keep into account investments, pensions and provision for your children, provision for old age, but also unemployment.
They have nothing, and that means every little bit of sickness, age and unexpected events will put these people in trouble. So altogether, the AFI policy in order to favor financial inclusion over many other goals, is probably the most important thing that we can do as humans.
Sputnik: How many people in the world have no access to digital financial services? What measures should be taken to include these people in the field of financial accessibility?
Dirk Andreas Zetzsche: I am not aware of a number for digital financial services, but for financial services we have numbers: it's 1.7 billion people, that's basically roughly 20% of the world's population.
Sputnik: Could you tell us about the latest innovations in the field of financial accessibility, digital financial services?
Dirk Andreas Zetzsche: Basically I'd say that probably 10-15 years ago, the innovative push that we're experiencing right now started by bringing people into the banking system with a smartphone or just a cell phone. So a simple cell phone, for instance, is the access point. In some countries in Africa it's not a smartphone, it's not Internet based, it is just number based: you type in numbers and thereby you access the financial system.
Simplifying things to a level that everyone on the planet can understand, even if they cannot read and write. This is, of course, a huge innovation, although it doesn't sound like that, but sometimes innovation is a step back rather than a step forward.
Sputnik: Could we say that because of the high pace of progress in the field of financial accessibility it is increasingly difficult for authorities to monitor the risks to the financial systems and, even more so, in a timely manner to respond to them? If so, how does this unbalance influence people? What should we do with that?
Dirk Andreas Zetzsche: I will answer your question in two parts. The first part is we have new players in the system. So phone operators are banks today, or shopping platforms like Alibaba or Tencent, are banks today, and these new players provide a challenge to the banking regulators, because these new players are usually not regulated when they start and that means regulators have no idea what they're doing.
The other type of risk that you see in the financial system is a lot of technology provides services to banks, for instance, cloud services, for instance, blockchain-based services. These services are usually not in the traditional focus of regulators and that means that the regulators have to deal with new technologies which is not easy for them because they're not trained in these new technologies, so they need to build new capacities and new understanding for these technologies.
Sputnik: Another important topic is identification in this field. Could you please tell us in more detail about the new technologies of digital identification and what's your proposal to increase digital identification?
So for instance, we could take an iris scan, we can take a fingerprint, we could take the way you hold your smartphone, we can take your voice, all of these are very unique features of you and with that we can identify you much better and our approach is rather than to ask for base identity, is to use these unique features of yourself to identify and to make sure that there are no two of you in the system. If we do that, we can battle fraud and we can battle crime with sufficient certainty.
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