4:00—5:30 PM
Center for Global Development
2055 L St, NW
- Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20036

Can Digital Currencies Improve Financial Access?


Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO and Founder, BitPesa

Greg Chen, Head of Policy, The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP)

Andi Dervishi, Global Head, FinTech Investment Group, The International Finance Corporation (IFC)

Harish Natarajan, Lead Financial Sector Specialist, Finance & Markets Global Practice, World Bank Group


Michael Pisa, Policy Fellow, Center for Global Development

As the evidence of mobile money’s ability to improve financial access continues to grow, some in the development community are exploring whether a new wave of digital innovation, including digital currencies and blockchain technology, can play a similar role. To date, however, only a small number of start-ups using these technologies have been able to develop profitable business models, while others have struggled to overcome some of the same hurdles faced by more traditional financial actors. For this reason, some are skeptical that these new technologies will significantly improve financial inclusion.

This event, which is co-hosted by the Center for Global Development and World Bank’s Blockchain Lab, will bring together policy experts working on the forefront of financial inclusion and technology, along with the CEO of BitPesa, a company that uses blockchain technology to facilitate payments between Africa and the rest of the world. The panel will discuss the opportunities and challenges facing start-ups seeking to use blockchain technology to expand financial access in emerging and frontier markets. CGD Policy Fellow Michael Pisa will moderate the discussion.

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