Cashless Alliance Launched in China

Date: 19 Apr 2017

China Cashless Society enters its Next Phase

Hangzhou, 18 April

Money is probably the most popular thing in the world, but today cash itself is increasingly outdated.

On 18 April 2017, ANT, in collaboration with UN Environment and other partners, launched the Cashless Alliance in Hangzhou, envisioning a cashless society for ANT’s business partners that is green and inclusive. Focused on supporting a cash-free, inclusive business community, the initiative builds on the launch by UN Environment and ANT at the World Economic Forum in January 2017 of the Green Digital Finance Alliance.

“Fintech is not ‘just another topic’ in the green finance space, it is a lens on the future of the financial system itself.” said Simon Zadek, Co-director of the UN Environment Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System. He added “The Cashless Alliance has the potential to accelerate the transformation of China’s financial system to a greener, more sustainable one.”

Financing sustainable development is one of the greatest challenges of our times. To meet this challenge will require ambition, innovation, and commitment, underpinned by effective collaboration. Digital finance can drive environmental risks, opportunities, incentives and choices into the decision-making across the financing value chain. The Green Digital Finance Alliance, and now the Cashless Alliance, are committed to driving forward such changes through market innovation, collaborative action and increased public’s awareness of sustainable development and green lifestyle choices.

Speaking at the launch in Hangzhou, China, Mr. Zhang Shigang from UN Environment China highlighted the potential and urgency of the agenda: “A cashless society is far more than saving paper. Digital finance is about a fundamental transformation of how business is done, and role of finance in driving forward an economy that is green and inclusive. The Cashless Alliance extends our work with ANT on green digital finance to include their entire business eco-system.”

This April, ANT Financial has made an ambitious proposal to help advance China into a cashless society, and announced an investment of RMB 3 billion per year during the coming two years to make green finance an integral part of the daily life of every individual and business. This could be a major source of savings, as a recent report by the World Bank found that government and businesses can cut up to 75 percent of costs through digital payment programs.

At the launch, a number of domestic and international companies and organizations, such as Carrefour, Beijing Capital International Airport and Visit Finland, have become initial Alliance members to promote cashless payment. The Alliance predicts that over a million members will join over the course of the year.

ANT’s Chief Executive Officer Eric Jing said “Cashless society and mobile payment are only the first step. Every electronic transaction can be turned into data to support the overall credit system, which will bring more inclusive finance, more effective economy and better service quality, advancing to the credit-based society and smarter cities.”

Jing added “Digital payments can empower people and help grow businesses. But the effort of shifting away from cash requires leadership, resources and technical expertise. And we need to work with our partners to make a global impact.”

ANT’s RMB 3 billion per year investment will help develop tech capabilities and support the Alliance partners. For example, businesses that have adopted green and sustainable measures at their storefronts will have priority access to funds to go cashless, such as installing machines for digital payments.

In many countries, traditional credit card and financial systems are already mature, and cash is replaced by other methods. The opportunity for cashless systems is growing – in Kenya, for example, M-PESA has demonstrated how a mobile phone-based money transfer system has transformed a financial service in the developing world.

Innovations in financial technologies (fintech) offer the greatest hope for aligning the world’s financial systems with the urgent objectives of sustainable development and deepening financial inclusion, and the financing of the Sustainable Development Goals. The innovation and thinking behind the Green Digital Finance Alliance and the Cashless Alliance will provide a unique platform and agenda to take these goals forward.

 

For further information, please contact:

Mahenau Agha – mahenau.agha@unep.org

Kelly Yu – kelly.yu@unep.org

 

About the Green Digital Finance Alliance

The Green Digital Finance Alliance was launched by ANT Financial and UN Environment on 19 January 2017, in Davos during the World Economic Forum. It has been created to address the potential for fintech-powered business innovations to reshape the financial system in ways that better align it with the needs of environmental sustainability. At its core, the Alliance’s members will comprise innovative financial institutions committed to using digital technology to advance green finance in lending, investment, and insurance. To ensure success, the Alliance will draw in allies from across the worlds of environment and finance, who, through their expertise, insights and networks can contribute to collaborative actions with timely and scaled potential.

Website: www.greendigitalfinance.org

About Ant Financial

Ant Financial Services Group is focused on serving small and medium enterprises as well as individuals. With the vision “bring small and beautiful changes to the world,” Ant Financial is dedicated to building an open ecosystem of Internet thinking and technologies while working with other financial institutions to support the future financial needs of society. Businesses operated by Ant Financial Services Group include Alipay, Ant Fortune, Zhima Credit and MYbank.

About UN Environment

UN Environment is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, and promotes the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system. It has been engaged in sustainable finance since 1992 through its Finance Initiative and more recently through the ground-breaking work of its Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System.