Chinese entrepreneur proposes digital finance working group to support SDGs

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-09-19 09:46

UNITED NATIONS - Ant Financial, an affiliate of China's e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, called on delegates at a UN conference to form a digital finance working group in order to push forward the UN's 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

"Governments, international institutions and private companies shall look for a common solution to advance technology innovations for digital inclusive finance," said the company's executive chair, Lucy Peng, at a meeting on "The Role of the United Nations" in regards to financing the 2030 Agenda.

She said that in a digital era, technology has been and will play a vital role in supporting inclusive and sustainable development around the world because it will make financial support more readily available for ordinary people.

Peng shared two of the company's successful practices in digital financing and sustainable development with the audience.

Currently, small and micro businesses can apply for a loan through Ant Financial's online platform within three minutes and receive the money immediately upon approval, according to Peng.

The company has so far provided loans for more than 7 million companies. The average amount of the loans is $5,000.

"The practice is a clear demonstration of the power of technology as it has helped so many micro businesses and startups," said Peng.

In order to support sustainable development, Ant Financial launched Ant Forest, a platform for tracking individuals' carbon footprint, in August last year.

Ant Forest allows users to collect "energy points" through their actions in the real world that can be used to grow virtual and, ultimately, real trees.

To date, 230 million users of Alipay, Ant's mobile and online payments app, have activated Ant Forest accounts, according to the company. About 65 percent of users who have the accounts are people under 28 years of age.

Ant Financial and its partners, including environmental NGOs -- the SEE Foundation and China Green Foundation -- have thus far planted 10.25 million trees, equivalent to a 1.22 million-ton reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the event that finance is pivotal for success and the choices people make on finance will be critical.

"We can choose to bemoan the lack of financing for the 2030 Agenda in a world awash with so much unproductive and unrewarding finance. Or we can grasp the opportunity to reshape finance according to our urgent, collective needs," said Guterres.

He said that he will champion key international initiatives that can harness large-scale changes in financing and financial system development, such as in the fields of digitalization and climate finance and in cooperating with major investment initiatives.

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