The COVID-19 Pandemic has transformed how people conduct business – actions previously done in person are now conducted digitally and the technologies supporting such solutions have allowed for contactless transactions. This shift has created new technologies, services, and platforms
Within the ESCAP region, many countries have been pioneers of digital payments before the “New Normal”. COVID-19 has only accelerated the adoption and broadened the coverage of digital payments across different types of transactions and industries. Digital payments are now ubiquitous in day-to-day transactions beyond e-commerce, with peer-to-peer payments between cities and rural areas, to digital payments through QR code for everyday purchases. Digital payment platforms have grown significantly reaching 1.8 trillion transactions from 494 billion transactions in 2020, and the number of digital payment transactions are projected to continue to grow at 13.9% CAGR through 2030 across Asia-Pacific.
The ESCAP region has seen a number of innovative digital finance solutions and regulatory frameworks put in place to support both financial inclusion and MSME growth. This Training Workshop is organized as part of the United Nations’ Global Initiative towards post-Covid-19 Resurgence of the MSME sector. The workshop seeks to draw upon the progress Member States have made pre-COVID-19, but especially during the COVID-19 era, to present viable solutions and regulatory developments to support the development of successful payment systems, making economic and business transactions easier, safer and more efficient, with the goal of balancing innovation and regulation. Under the Covid-19 crisis, financial digitalization offers solutions to increase efficiencies, lower transaction costs, enhance security and expand financial services to the underserved MSME sector.
Objectives and target audience
The objective of the Training Workshop on Breaking Down Barriers to Payments is to support financial inclusion and MSME growth in the digital age. This regional workshop provides an opportunity to enhance the understanding and knowledge of ESCAP member States on the innovations in payments and regulatory frameworks currently in place across the ESCAP region. The workshop also aims to bring best practices and innovations from across the ESCAP region and offer different approaches and perspectives for public and private sector stakeholders in adapting interoperable payment systems and leveraging digital solutions to support individuals and MSMEs.
Targeted participants include policymakers, financial institutions, private sector representatives, chambers of commerce and industry, academic institutions, start-ups, e-commerce institutes, and international and regional development agencies.