United Nations Workshop to explore lessons learned from China's experience using technology to advance development

  • May 08, 2019

  • Beijing, China

Digital finance is a unique accelerator when it comes to financial inclusion and is broadly recognized as a key enabler of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Nicholas Rosellini
UN Resident Coordinator

UNCDF launches i3 Program in China for the digital financial Inclusion of low-income people and features Secretary-General’s special task force on digital financing.

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the UN agency that makes public and private finance work for the poor, hosted a workshop today at the Great Wall Hotel in Beijing. Organized in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges (CICETE), the workshop will bring together approximately 55 participants from Asia and Africa. Together they will explore China’s experience using digital technologies to advance development and the possible applicability of those experiences to their own countries’ contexts.

China has achieved dramatic success in digital financial inclusion which has contributed significantly to its economic growth and to poverty reduction. The potential for financial technology, or fintech, to advance the Sustainable Development Goals is the key focus for the “United Nations Secretary-Generals Task Force on Digital Financing of the SDGs,” a new initiative (launched in late November 2018) whose membership includes the CEO of China’s Ant Financial. Representatives of the Task Force will deliver remarks and facilitate the workshop.

UNCDF is also taking the opportunity of this south-south workshop to announce a new initiative in China, supported by MetLife Foundation’s “i3 Program,” to further develop digital financial services. The new initiative, under the UNDP-CICETE Project named “Research and Promotion on SDG Impact Financing project in China” aims to broaden the impact of financial inclusion to the “last mile.” It will leverage more than 130 UNCDF partnerships with financial service providers, partnerships whose combined impact to date has been to connect more than 18 million people to digital financial services in Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

Ms. Agi Veres UNDP Resident Representative in China highlighted in the welcome session “China has displayed great progress in improving financial inclusion by utilizing innovative tools, especially mobile payments and Internet-based credit. As a global pioneer in digital finance, China has a wealth of experience in building inclusive financial systems through digital innovation, which could benefit other developing countries through global partnership initiatives. UNDP and UNCDF are uniquely positioned to help China engage in global technology transfer and knowledge exchange; to showcase Chinese experiences that demonstrate how Fintech can help empower women, young people, small businesses and leave no one behind.”

UNCDF believes that financial inclusion will also facilitate and accelerate many of the SDGs provided that financial access interventions are deliberately guided by the core principle of inclusion. The UN system is uniquely positioned to address this need and to develop effective, measurable strategies to establish the infrastructure and enabling policy framework necessary for inclusive and sustainable national digital economies to thrive.

The experience of China provides a powerful example. People in China are technology literate and very willing to engage with digital financial services, creating the opportunity to deliver financial tools and services that could improve their financial health. Although many people own a mobile phone or have a mobile money account, relatively low level of usage by some parts of the population, such as women or farmers, shows that existing solutions are not fully responsive to all citizens’ needs. UNCDF will work with the government and the private sector to improve the ways services are provided and how they impact people’s daily life in a sustainable way.

“Digital finance is a unique accelerator when it comes to financial inclusion and is broadly recognized as a key enabler of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said Nicholas Rosellini, the UN Resident Coordinator. “Innovations in financial services through the smart use of technologies and data will undoubtedly allow millions to access and pay more easily for services in health, education, energy as well as develop their businesses and improve their revenues to name a few of the benefits we already see unfolding in many markets.”

At MetLife Foundation, we believe that financial health should be within every person’s reach. With the extensive experience of UNCDF in 40 countries, this programme has a great opportunity to empower those in need through the innovations in digital financial services. MetLife China is devoted to protecting the health and financial wellbeing of all. We’re pleased to support the new initiatives to improve the financial health of low- to moderate-income communities in China.

Ms. Siyi Sun
CEO of MetLife China

The further development of digital financial inclusion is directly contributing to the emergence of digital economies that are shaping our future. Over the past 50 years, UNCDF has proven its capacity to create partnerships and stimulate dialogue among players of the private and public sector that benefit the last mile. This long-standing experience and the unique neutral broker role of UNCDF will now be put to use in China in the coming years.

About i3 Program

The i3 program was collaboratively designed by MetLife Foundation and its grantees including UNCDF as well as LumenLab, MetLife’s Innovation Center in Asia. The program is delighted to have the support and cross-sectoral collaboration from both government as well as non-government and private sector. The program covers China, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Vietnam under the i3 program to achieve the ultimate goal of improving financial health for low- to moderate-income communities.


The UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) makes public and private finance work for the poor in the world’s 47 least developed countries. With its capital mandate and instruments, UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development. UNCDF’s financing models work through two channels: financial inclusion that expands the opportunities for individuals, households, and small businesses to participate in the local economy, providing them with the tools they need to climb out of poverty and manage their financial lives; and by showing how localized investments—through fiscal decentralization, innovative municipal finance, and structured project finance—can drive public and private funding that underpins local economic expansion and sustainable development. By strengthening how finance works for poor people at the household, small enterprise, and local infrastructure levels, UNCDF contributes to SDG 1 on eradicating poverty and SDG 17 on the means of implementation. By identifying those market segments where innovative financing models can have transformational impact in helping to reach the last mile and address exclusion and inequalities of access, UNCDF contributes to a number of different SDGs.

About the UN Secretary-General’s Task Force on Digital Financing of the Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations Secretary-General’s Task Force on Digital Financing of the Sustainable Development Goals (the Task Force) was created to explore how the digital revolution that is transforming the world’s financial systems might be shaped for the benefit of the planet and its people. Launched in November 2018, the Task Force consists of global leaders from diverse sectors, geographies, and professional backgrounds. Members include heads of agencies from the UN system, commercial bank CEOs, government ministers, central bank governors, tech entrepreneurs, capital markets experts, telecom industry heads, and other recognized global leaders. Through their own collective wisdom and an ambitious global crowd-sourcing campaign, the Task Force is designing a concrete, actionable set of recommendations for ways that digital financing can close the estimated USD 2.5 trillion annual gap in investment needed to achieve the SDGs. More information is available at

About MetLife Foundation

At MetLife Foundation, we believe financial health belongs to everyone. We bring together bold solutions, deep financial expertise and meaningful grants to build financial health for people and communities that are underserved and aspire for more. We partner with organizations around the world to create financial health solutions and build stronger communities, engaging MetLife employees to help drive impact. To date, our financial health work has reached more than 6 million low-income individuals in 42 countries. To learn more about MetLife Foundation, visit