The SOAS Centre for Global Finance Annual Conference 2019 was held here at SOAS on the theme, “FinTech, financial inclusion and sustainable growth”, on 6th - 7th September 2019.
The aim of the conference was to bring together key stakeholders who have important roles to play in shaping new research findings, paving new policy directions, and initiating innovative practices in the areas of FinTech, financial inclusion and sustainable economic development. The conference featured new research findings, contained in slightly over 30 research papers, over two days (6-7 September).
Officiating at the opening of the conference, the Director of SOAS, Baroness Valerie Amos said “This CGF Annual Conference 2019 is testimony to the pursuit of the SOAS Vision and Strategy 2016-2020, to ‘shape scholarship across the humanities and social sciences, and promote social benefit worldwide’. She added, in her conclusion, “I wish you a very fruitful conference and very productive networking so that you can continue to extend the frontiers of our knowledge and translate the knowledge into meaningful impact, by supporting public policies and private sector practices for financial inclusion and better livelihoods in Africa, Asia and globally. Through the Centre for Global Finance, SOAS will continue to count on you - all our friends and networks”.
The conference keynote was delivered by Dr Patrick Njoroge, Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya - a leading policy maker, who is at the forefront of FinTech and financial inclusion as well as the diffusion of this financial innovation to the rest of the world. The Governor commented, “financial technologies are revolutionising the role of financial institutions, the behaviour of financial markets and the scope of financial instruments in developing as well as developed economies. They are transforming our daily economic activity such as sending and receiving money, paying bills, reshaping business models, facilitating financial inclusion and driving regulatory changes”.
The conference attracted distinguished scholars from universities in the UK, the USA, the Netherlands, Canada, Ghana, Uganda, Zambia, China, Kenya, China, India, France, Germany, and Switzerland - to mention just a sample of countries, demonstrating the global networks that are involved in path-breaking research to sustain the global competitiveness of the SOAS Centre for Global Finance. Equally important was the presence of practitioners from international organisations, such as the Department for International Development, Economic and Social Research Council, Bank for International Settlement, UN Economic Commission for Africa, African Development Bank, diplomatic missions based here in London, private sector companies, financial institutions, NGOs, media and think tanks. Leading researchers, who are part of the Centre for Global Finance network, included Victor Murinde (SOAS), Robert Lensink (University of Groningen), Issouf Soumare (Laval University, Canada), Christopher Green (Loughborough), Oliver Morrissey (University of Nottingham), Leonce Ndikumana (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), Yaw Nyarko (New York University), Leonard Wantchekon (Princeton University), Isaac Otchere (Carleton University, Canada), Mohammed Amidu (University of Ghana), Judith Tyson (ODI), Stephany Griffith-Jones (Columbia University and University of Sussex), Ye Bai (Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, China), plus private sector practitioners (e.g. Tandhi, CEO of Tandi Fashion, London). The SOAS Pro-Director (International), Professor Stephen Hopgood, met the Chief Guest and other participants in the morning before the conference opening; the SOAS Pro-Director (Research), Professor Andrea Cornwall interacted with the Chief Guest and other conference participants at the conference dinner.
The papers included in the conference programme were funded by many research grants, in particular: the AXA Research Fund who are supporting the research programme on “Mega Trends in Global Finance”, under the endowment of the AXA Chair in Global Finance at SOAS; DFID and ESRC, who under the DFID-ESRC Growth Research Programme Call 3 are supporting the research on “Delivering Inclusive Financial Development and Growth”, and the ESRC and NSFC who are supporting the research project on “Developing financial systems to support sustainable growth in China – The role of innovation, diversity and financial regulation”.
The Director of SOAS Centre for Global Finance, Professor Victor Murinde, thanked Dr Meng Xie who led the team that organised the conference; he then stated in his closing remarks, “It has been two days of great fellowship among researchers, policy makers and practitioners. Indeed, this conference has exemplified the drive by the SOAS Centre for Global Finance to engage in research that resonates with policy and practice”.