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Time to act: Insights from Davos 2020

By Wirecard Editorial Team

Every year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) hosts an annual meeting at the end of January in Davos, Switzerland. The meeting brings together over 3,000 business leaders, international political leaders, economists and journalists for up to five days to discuss global issues, across 500 public and private sessions. Wirecard also participated in the WEF with a keynote by Jörn Leogrande, EVP of our Innovation Labs, as part of the Futur/io Institute Reception, where nearly 200 guests from the UN, the WEF and the business world gathered to hear keynotes from representatives from Google and SAP, among others.

Enabling global innovation through payment

In his keynote, Jörn explained how payment can be an enabler for innovation and good all around the globe.

Building Blocks - Blockchain for Zero Hunger

In January 2017, the UN’s World Food Program initiated a proof-of-concept project in Sindh province, Pakistan, to test the capabilities of using blockchain for authenticating and registering beneficiary transactions. The blockchain technology behind the project allowed direct, secure, and fast transactions between participants and WFP—without requiring a financial intermediary like a bank to connect the two parties.

Now, over 100,000 refugees living in settlement camps can purchase groceries by scanning their iris at checkout. Built on a private, permissioned blockchain, and integrated with UNHCR’s existing biometric authentication technology, WFP has a record of every transaction. This not only saves on financial transaction fees in the camp setting but ensures greater security and privacy for Syrian refugees.

Better than Cash

The Better Than Cash Alliance is a partnership of governments, companies, and international organizations that accelerates the transition from cash to digital payments in order to reduce poverty and drive inclusive growth. Specific benefits include efficiency, transparency, women’s economic participation, and financial inclusion, helping build economies that are digital and inclusive.

Leading global brands like H&M, Marks & Spencer, Target, Li & Fung, Lindex, Debenhams, and Fast Retailing have collaborated through the program to digitize worker payroll for their suppliers in Bangladesh. The program, managed by BSR (Business for Social Responsibility) and developed in close partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, serves as a unique platform for cross-brand collaboration. Participating factories are supported by their partner brands, BSR, and local NGOs throughout the process, working with mobile financial service providers (such as BKash and DBBL). By joining forces, participating companies have a stronger collective voice in influencing garment factories – with the program reaching more than 100,000 workers, 60 percent of whom are women.

Sustainable Banking

Sustainable is not a word that could have been used to describe too many banks before the financial crisis. However, as banks across the globe look to position themselves for the future, the issue has moved up on the list of priorities. What’s more, it also goes beyond mere products, and applies just as easily to the culture of banking itself. According to a recent Roland Berger report, “no matter whether they are shopping, buying a home, or investing money, more and more consumers want their decisions to contribute to making the world a better place.” And the growth of sustainable banking start-ups and initiatives is the result.

For example, Doconomy shares the vision of enabling a sustainable lifestyle for everyone. They want to provide a banking service with a conscience, where consumers’ spending and savings are measured by their impact on the planet, both negative and positive.

Moonshot ideas

Jörn continued with an outlook to the future. As a possible “moonshot,” he presented the winning idea of the Wirecard Open Challenge, which was selected during DLD in Munich. Finalist Enée Bussac created the so-called “Tailored Contribution System”. The TCS aims to be a payment system based on digital ledgers and currencies. With this revolutionary approach, taxation would be tailored per ingredient and would completely replace consumer taxes as we know them today. The general aim of the idea is to curb consumption of products causing high CO2 emissions by using tailored taxation. The idea intrigued many attendees and also C-level FMCG representatives were highly interested in the idea.

Time to act

As a final remark Jörn called upon the audience and said, “Sustainability and corporate social responsibility will have a major impact on banking and fintech. We see a variety of potential projects Wirecard can support throughout 2020, but we need partners like you to make it happen.”

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