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Michael Pisa is a policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, where his work focuses on how digitalization is shaping economic development. He is currently overseeing a project on how governments can use and regulate the use of data in a way that supports innovation, growth, and development while protecting individuals against abuse. Before joining CGD, Pisa served as a senior advisor to the Under Secretary for International Affairs at the US Treasury Department, where he helped organize and inform the Obama Administration’s efforts to support financial inclusion abroad. In earlier roles, he served as deputy director of Treasury’s Office of International Banking, and acting US financial attaché in Afghanistan. Pisa received a PhD in political science from the University of California, San Diego.
In November 2015, CGD published a report on the unintended consequences of anti-money laundering policies for poor countries, focusing on three groups: migrant workers who send remittances to their families, vulnerable people who are displaced by conflict or natural disasters and are in need of foreign assistance, and businesses that rely on cross-border trade. Since then, the international community has made several efforts to address the problem of financial exclusion created in part by these policies.
Distributed ledger technology, like Bitcoin’s blockchain, has the potential to transform cross-border payments, boost financial inclusion, and lessen the unintended consequences of anti-money laundering enforcement. Ripple, a fintech company using distributed ledger technology, made headlines recently, as did the appearance of a new cryptocurrency, Zcash. If you’ve gotten swept up in the enthusiasm around emerging financial technologies (fintech), you may think that the creaking system of international transfers in fiat currencies, and the problems of global financial exclusion associated with it, will soon come to an end. However, as we’ve said before, these innovations may not have as much of an impact as you expect.