Crown Agents Bank’s CEO Albert Maasland discusses the impact of COVID-19 on the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council panel

Published // 28th May 2020

Two days ago, the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council hosted an engaging panel discussion which brought together fintech leaders to share their insights on how developments in fintech arena will impact financial inclusion efforts, and the necessity of such innovation, particularly in a post-COVID-19 environment.

On the panel, Albert Maasland started by giving a short introduction to Crown Agents Bank and the efforts conducted over the past four years to transform the Bank into a leading digital player in the provision of specialist international payments and foreign exchange services. Albert noted that the Bank’s particular expertise is in foreign exchange for emerging and frontier markets, many of which are now benefitting from the growth of fintech involvement in global payments.

In respect of the impact of COVID-19, Albert believes that the pandemic will drive a significant increase in demand for cross-border payments and foreign exchange services, requiring fintech distribution channels. Mobile money and fintechs are becoming a driving force behind financial inclusion efforts, yet there are still some ongoing challenges to address in terms of cross-border payments, which can be hampered by monitoring systems and regulation.

However, despite lockdowns being implemented during the pandemic, many countries have seen a higher engagement by central banks around the issue of regulation, with a view to establishing levels that facilitate positive change, but without losing control. Regulatory frameworks have, thus far, struggled to keep pace with technical advancements in this space, and it is critical to ensure that both move in tandem in future.

During global lockdowns, we have seen a rise in use of digital payment channels and a considerable reduction in cash transactions, which Albert believes might be here to stay as we emerge from the crisis.

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