"At the MetLife Foundation, we believe that financial health should be within every person’s reach. Malaysia has made great progress in ensuring basic financial inclusion for everyone and we think it is the perfect time to move the discussion and efforts towards financial health."
- Krishna Thacker, the Asia Regional Director of the MetLife Foundation
Winning start-ups from the UNCDF B40 Challenge will be chosen after a pitching session at MyFintech Week 2019 while UNCDF experts from around the world come to Malaysia to speak on financial inclusion and digital finance.
The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the UN agency that makes public and private finance work for the poor, has partnered with Bank Negara Malaysia for MyFintech Week 2019. Held in Bank Negara Malaysia’s Sasana Kijang building from the 17th to the 19th of June, the event brings together industry movers and shakers in the fields of finance and technology for meaningful exchanges to shape the future of financial services. UNCDF experts from around the world will be speaking on topics including financing for the future, e-KYC, reimagining financial inclusion, open banking and others. UNCDF will also be holding a ‘Demo Day’ as the culmination of its B40 Challenge.
During the ‘Demo Day,’ held at 10:30am on the 19th of June, six start-ups will pitch their solutions to help low- and middle- income Malaysians in improving their financial health. These six start-ups were chosen from more than 110 applicants. The start-ups applied to work with UNCDF to create and refine products and services that help low- and middle- income people spend, borrow, save and plan. A panel of industry-leading judges from Bank Negara Malaysia, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), the Metlife Foundation and UNCDF will choose the top three teams who will then go on to work with UNCDF to bring their solutions to market.
“It is wonderful to see the innovative spirit behind these solutions," said Surina Shukri, CEO of MDEC. “Malaysia is rapidly proving to be a fertile testbed for Fintech solutions and products. MDEC is primed and working with key players to refine Malaysia’s unique proposition as a dynamic ideal hub from which Fintech companies will be able to launch and serve a different markets.”
The B40 Challenge is the first major activity of the Financial Innovation Lab in Malaysia, based at The Orbit. The Financial Innovation Lab was created by UNCDF as a community of practice energized by its mission to achieve digital financial inclusion and contribute to the sustainable development goals on poverty alleviation (SDG1). UNCDF’s work in Malaysia is funded by the MetLife Foundation through the i3 Program. Explaining the motivation behind this program, Krishna Thacker, the Asia Regional Director of the MetLife Foundation, said: “At the MetLife Foundation, we believe that financial health should be within every person’s reach. Malaysia has made great progress in ensuring basic financial inclusion for everyone and we think it is the perfect time to move the discussion and efforts towards financial health. With this challenge, UNCDF is helping to bring new innovations in digital financial services to Malaysia and we’re pleased to support these efforts aimed at improving the financial health of low- to moderate-income communities in Malaysia.”
To achieve the aim of bringing breakthrough and potentially transformational digital financial service solutions to half a million low- and middle- income people The Financial Innovation Lab is working with start-ups, established players (such as MNO’s and banks) and enablers (such as regulators). Jaspreet Singh, UNCDF Regional Technical Specialist for Asia Pacific region and Head of the Financial Innovation Lab globally, spoke about what will come next: “We’re excited to see how the products we’re piloting as a part of this Challenge will help Malaysia’s low- to middle- income people improve their financial health. But there are other challenges to be met. We are excited to announce that we will be partnering with the “United Nations Secretary-Generals’ Task Force on Digital Financing of the SDGs” to design challenges on their areas of interest, for instance, decent work and economic growth.”
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.
UNCDF in Malaysia is delivered in partnership with Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation and Bank Negara Malaysia, and hosted by The Orbit Malaysia Fintech Hub.
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 metlife.org.
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 DigitalFinancingTaskForce.org