Leveraging the Digital Age: Harnessing Innovation, Scaling Financial Inclusion













UNITAR Virtual Conference on Digital Finance

United Nations

21 April 2021 | 10:00-15:30 CET

Embrace the digital revolution! Learn about the latest financial innovations and their potential contribution to achieving sustainable development. 

Join us and engage with the leading FinTech innovators, regulators, experts, and practitioners from the financial sector to grasp opportunities of the digital age!

VIEW THE FULL RECORDING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_LeGwi3QfI 

The global pandemic has slowed down development and has created numerous social and economic challenges for all of us. New digital connection platforms and constant virtual environment, including online learning could play a key role to tackle these challenges. However, not everyone is able to easily adopt to the new norm and unfortunately many have been losing the opportunity to access training and education. 

At UNITAR we feel an urgent need to strengthen our efforts in all fronts to help reduce digital inequalities and to facilitate financial inclusion through training. Therefore, UNITAR launches the new comprehensive Digital Finance Initiative with the aim of supporting countries and organizations to harness digital technologies and to build the essential digital and financial knowledge and skills of their people.

World Creativity and Innovation Day, 21st of April serves as our motivation to launch the Digital Finance Initiative with a one-day virtual conference which aims at discussing the future of finance in the context of the latest FinTech innovations, sharing best practices of digitalizing monetary policy and currencies from the regulatory perspective, and exploring the potential of digital innovations in accelerating sustainable development. UNITAR is creating a multi-stakeholder platform and inviting FinTech innovators, government representatives, regulatory officials, financial practitioners, development experts and all change agents to join us on the 21st of April and participate in the discussions about the most urgent digital financial issues.


Keynote Address: Nikhil Seth, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, Executive Director, UNITAR

On 8 June 2015, Mr. Nikhil Seth was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as UN Assistant Secretary-General, Executive Director of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research. Before assuming the post of the UNITAR Executive Director, Nikhil Seth was the Director of the Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) at the United Nations Secretariat in New York. In this role he served as head of the Rio+20 secretariat and of the secretariat for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, spearheading the preparations for these conferences in Rio, Brazil, and Apia, Samoa. He was also closely engaged in coordinating and advancing their follow-up.

Mr. Seth’s Division was also responsible for supporting the intergovernmental negotiations for the post-2015 development agenda, which was adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 in September 2015. During his career with the United Nations since 1993, Mr. Seth has served as Special Assistant and Chief of Office to the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs (Sept 1993 – Jun 2001), Chief of the Policy Coordination Branch in the Division for ECOSOC Support and Coordination (Jun 2001 – Jan 2003), as Secretary of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Second Committee of the General Assembly (Feb 2003 – Aug 2006), and as Director of the DESA Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination (Aug 2006 – Aug 2011), where he guided the ECOSOC's work in implementing several new key mandates, including its Annual Ministerial Review and Development Cooperation Forum.

Before joining the UN Secretariat, he was a delegate to the UN in the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations (Sep 1990 – Sep 1993) and involved with various UN conferences and summits including the Rio Summit on Environment and Development and the climate change related process.   After joining the UN, he has been involved in the organization of the Copenhagen Summit on Social Development, the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development, the Mauritius Conference on Small Island Developing States, the Millennium Summit, World Summit on Sustainable Development and the UN World Summit, beside the Rio+20 Conference. He joined the Indian diplomatic service in 1980 and his diplomatic assignments included Geneva, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

Opening Remarks: Mihoko Kumamoto, Director, Division for Prosperity, UNITAR


Mihoko KUMAMOTO has over 20 years of professional experience in the development cooperation field and has been with the United Nations for 18 years. As Director of the UNITAR Hiroshima Office, Ms. Kumamoto leads training programmes for countries in Africa, the Arab States, Asia, and the Pacific and Indian Oceans on diverse topics, including peacebuilding, social entrepreneurship, and sustainable development. Ms. Kumamoto earned her Master’s in Economic Development at Columbia University. In 2001, she joined the United Nations Development Programme and served its Vietnam Country Office as a Junior Professional Officer. In 2003, she moved to the UNDP Headquarters in New York and led various signature programmes that promoted the capacity development of institutions and individuals, including the Africa Adaptation Programme. In 2011, Ms. Kumamoto worked for the UNDP Multi-Country Office for Samoa, the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau as Assistant Resident Representative for Crisis Prevention and Recovery. After the assignment, she re-joined UNDP Headquarters, and in 2012, Ms. Kumamoto moved to Jakarta to serve UNDP Indonesia as a Senior Advisor. She began her position as Head, and then Director, of the UNITAR Hiroshima Office in 2014. From July 2019, she became Director of the UNITAR Division for Prosperity.

Conference Moderator: Judit Kozenkow, Professor of Economics, EU Business School Switzerland and Webster University Geneva

Dr. Judit Kozenkow currently teaches at EU Business School Switzerland and at Webster University Geneva. She also works as development expert and lecturer for the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and has previously worked for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Her previous positions include research fellowship at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, visiting fellowship at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC and strategic advisory and risk management in the Hungarian financial sector. Dr. Kozenkow holds a Ph.D. in Economics and her area of expertise and research focus are international economics, trade and sustainable development.

Michal Paserman, Director of Executive Education, Professor of Finance, Geneva Finance Research Institute - University of Geneva

Dr. Michal Paserman is the Manager of the Executive Education at the Geneva Finance Research Institute – the University of Geneva. With more than 20 years of international experience she has been teaching finance at leading universities in executive, graduate and undergraduate programs. She has delivered workshops for banks and senior executives on the topic of Behavioral Finance. Dr. Paserman is a consultant to Alere Syon Family Office and a Member of the Executive Committee and Associate Editor of World Scientific Lecture Notes in Finance. She has served as a Director on the Boards of the listed companies Ampa Capital Ltd. and Ampa Investments Ltd., where she also acted as a Member of the Audit Committee. Previously, she was a Senior Economist at IFTRIC and worked as an economist in the international headquarters of TEVA Pharmaceuticals Ltd. She earned a Ph.D. in International Economics from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva (IHEID), specializing in sovereign debt and financial crises.

Daniel Mika, President, Swiss Finance + Technology Association

Mr. Daniel Mika is the President of the Swiss Finance + Technology Association (SFTA), the centre of gravity for the Swiss fintech ecosystem. The SFTA acts as the association for the fintech industry in Switzerland. The association organises events, training and education, has a global partnership network, represents the fintech industry on a local and global stage and promotes and advocates for the interests of its members and the industry overall. By profession, Daniel Mika works as a Senior Portfolio Manager and ESG Analyst for a supranational institution based in Basel, Switzerland. In this role he manages a multi-currency fixed income liquidity portfolio and has regular interactions with Swiss fintech companies in the area of treasury and asset management. Daniel is a Fellow Chartered Accountant (FCA) of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), he also sits on the Committee of ICAEW Switzerland. He is also a qualified Corporate Treasurer (AMCT) and member of the Association of Corporate Treasurers, UK (ACT).

Daniel Sandmeier, CEO, Instimatch

Mr. Daniel Sandmeier is the Chief Executive Officer of Instimatch Global and serves on the Board of Directors of a Swiss-based family office. He previously held senior management positions in Trading, Structuring and Sales of Equities, Derivatives and Structured Products in the Investment Banking divisions of Credit Suisse, UBS and Merrill Lynch. Daniel furthermore developed and launched Signature Managed Accounts, a distinctive and innovative platform for Ultra-High-Net-Worth clients at Credit Suisse. He is a founding member and has been President of the Swiss Structured Products Association (SSPA) and co-authored a book entitled “Die Welt der Strukturierten Produkte”, a 380-page reference guide for structured product investors. Daniel holds an MA in Business Management from the University of Zurich.

Jean-François Lagassé, Managing Partner, Financial Services Industry at Deloitte Switzerland, Global Wealth Management Lead at Deloitte

Mr. Jean-François Lagassé is the Swiss Financial Services Industry Leader and a Partner within Deloitte Switzerland's Financial Advisory business. He also leads our Global Wealth Management segment and is a member of the Swiss Executive. He has more than 25 years of professional experience in the field and has worked in the United States, Canada and Switzerland. Jean-François has successfully completed numerous M&A advisory and valuation mandates in sectors such as financial services, consumer and TMT.

Anikó Szombati, Chief Digital Officer, National Bank of Hungary

Ms. Anikó Szombati is Chief Digital Officer, executive director responsible for digitalization and FinTech development at MNB, the central bank of Hungary. Her main responsibility is to promote digital transformation in the financial sector as well as within the central bank, including the implementation of cutting edge technologies. MNB aims at increasing the competitiveness and efficiency of the financial sector via developing regulatory concepts on how to safely embrace new innovations brought about by technological developments. She is member of the Financial Stability Council. This body emanating the function of designated macroprudential authority, integrated supervisor and resolution authority of MNB is contributing to financial stability in many grounds. Before joining the central bank in 2001 she was market risk manager at different commercial banks. She holds an MSC in Finance from Corvinus University Budapest and an EFFAS diploma. 

Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)

Mr. Sopnendu Mohanty is the Chief Fintech Officer of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). He joined MAS in August 2015 responsible for creating development strategies, public infrastructure and regulatory policies around technology innovation. Since 2015, Singapore has become one of the top global fintech hubs covering a wide range of financial asset classes including adjacent technology innovations in areas like insurance, digital assets, blockchain, artificial intelligence, reg-tech and green-finance. Before MAS, Sopnendu spent over 20 years in various leadership roles in technology, finance and innovation with most of his career in Citigroup. Sopnendu is a member of multiple advisory committees of multilateral global agencies, associations, universities, and governments. He is an avid speaker, global thought leader in FinTech, and advocate of accelerated transformation to a digital economy for solving financial inclusion and sustainability challenges.

Soraya Hakuziyaremye, Deputy Governor, National Bank of Rwanda

Hon. Soraya Munyana Hakuziyaremye was appointed Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda on 15 March 2021.Prior to that, she served as Rwanda's Minister of Trade and Industry from October 2018 to March 2021; she began her tenure as a Cabinet Member right after her time as Senior Vice President in Financial Institutions/Financial Markets Risk Department at ING Bank in London. Hon. Soraya M. Hakuziyaremye also worked in various senior positions at BNP Paribas Group in Paris, Fortis Bank and the Bank of New York Mellon in Brussels. She also served as Senior Advisor to Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2012 to 2014. She was a board member of Ngali Holdings as well as the Brussels-Africa Hub. She brings a rich experience in global banking and financial advisory. Hon. Soraya M. Hakuziyaremye holds a postgraduate degree in International Management from the Thunderbird Graduate School of Global Management at Arizona State University in the U.S., as well as a Masters in Business Engineering (Ingénieur de Gestion) from the Solvay Business School at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium.

Tim Grant, Head of Business, SIX Digital Exchange

Mr. Tim Grant is the Head of Business of the SIX Digital Exchange (SDX) which is looking to become the world’s first fully regulated institutional digital asset exchange and CSD. Previously, Tim was Founder and CEO of DrumG Technologies, a product company and builder/operator of distributed ledger/blockchain technology applications and networks. Tim was CEO of the R3 Lab and Research Center where new distributed ledger technologies and methodologies could be researched, evaluated and accelerated towards production. Tim was a Managing Director at UBS O’Connor, a $6.5bn multi-strategy hedge fund, where he was Head of Quantitative Research, Head of Technology and was involved in investing in financial technology. He was Managing Director at Benchmark Solutions, a Warburg Pincus backed fintech startup. He was Managing Director at UBS AG in various positions. Tim has a MA in Materials Science and Metallurgy (First Class) from the Trinity Hall at the University of Cambridge and a MSc in Financial Engineering (Distinction) from the Birkbeck College at the University of London.

Ratna Sahay, Deputy Director, Monetary and Capital Markets Department, IMF

Ratna Sahay is Deputy Director of the Monetary and Capital Markets Department (MCM) at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). She leads key policy papers and projects in the areas of monetary policy, exchange rate policy, capital account, financial development, financial inclusion, and gender and finance. She is also responsible for bilateral surveillance support to area departments. Her recent projects include analytical work on unconventional monetary policy and global spillovers, capital flows, financial deepening, financial inclusion, and gender and finance. She has served as Advisor to Stanley Fischer (First Deputy Managing Director) and Advisor to Michael Mussa and Kenneth Rogoff (both Economic Counselors of the IMF). She has published widely in leading journals on monetary policy and financial sector, including financial market spillovers and financial crises, inflation, economic growth, fiscal policy and debt sustainability, and transition economies. She has taught at Delhi University, Columbia University, and New York University and holds a Ph.D. in Economics from New York University, New York. 

Sarah Mbi Enow Anyang, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, African Union Commission

H.E. Professor Sarah Mbi Enow Anyang Agbor, from Cameroon, was elected in 2017 as the new Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology of the African Union Commission. Commissioner heads three divisions namely; Human Resource and Youth Development; Education; and Science and Technology and several bodies. She provides guidance and vision to the HRST Mandate on Education, Science and Technology, Youth and Human Resources.  She ensures the coordination of AU policies and programmes on human resource development matters, science and technology. Professor Anyang Agbor has over twenty years’ experience in the field of Academia. She is a Professor of African and Commonwealth Literature. She was Inspector of Academic Affairs No. 1 at the Ministry of Higher Education, Cameroon. Previously, she was the Deputy Vice Chancellor in Charge of Research, Cooperation and Relations with the Business World (DVC-RCB) in the University of Bamenda, North West Region, Cameroon. Professor Anyang Agbor has written a number of academic Books and Publications to contribute to scholarship. She was Fulbright Scholar –in- Residence (SIR) to the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA in 2004-2005.

Simonetta Zarrilli, Chief, Trade, Gender and Development, UNCTAD

Simonetta Zarrilli is the chief of the Trade, Gender and Development Programme of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), a programme she has been leading since its inception in 2010. An experienced trade analyst with a long and successful career at the UN, Simonetta has worked on many trade and development issues and carried out a wealth of analytical, intergovernmental and technical cooperation activities on these issues. She has authored and coordinated many publications, including UN official publications, books and articles for academic journals.  

Thomas Abell, Chief - Digital Technology for Development, Asian Development Bank (ADB)

Mr. Thomas Abell is the Chief of ADB’s Digital Technology for Development Unit, which promotes the effective use of digital technology across ADB programs to improve development impact.  His team works with ADB member countries in supporting the transition to the digital economy and provides assistance across many areas, including eGovernment, Tech startup ecosystems, technology policy, and tech industry partnerships. Thomas has over 30 years of professional experience in digital technology, including technology policy and strategy, software development, and systems architecture.  During his 10+ years of experience in international development, he has worked extensively across Asia, Africa and Latin America, working with governments, development organizations, NGOs and corporations. He has authored many publications on technology innovation in development, focused mainly on education, financial inclusion and agriculture. Thomas has master’s degrees in engineerring and management and a bachelors in engineering from MIT.



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