As the world becomes increasingly interconnected and technology continues to break down barriers, it’s more important than ever to be receptive to regional and national concerns.
Even as globalisation helped foster a long stretch of improving living standards, boosting world GDP to around $75 trillion in 2016, from $50 trillion in 2000, it has also wrought unsettling change and exacerbated some disparities. That’s gone hand-in-hand with a rise in nationalist politics, as disenfranchised voters turned their back on open borders.
While technology has often underpinned those widening differences, it could also bridge some of the gaps, linking the local to the global as the Fourth Industrial Revolution takes hold.
“Past periods of globalisation have been justly criticised for leaving people behind while also being celebrated for generating wealth, spreading technologies and raising living standards,” the World Economic Forum’s Nicholas Davis and Derek O’Halloran said. “But we can, and should, do better in Globalisation 4.0.”
Balancing the benefits of globalisation with the disadvantages, has proven an elusive goal for many policymakers. Politicians, world leaders, businessmen and thought leaders gather in Davos this month to debate these concerns against the backdrop of the WEF Annual Meeting’s theme: Globalisation 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
With every industry, in every country, set for more disruption as digitalisation and artificial intelligence advance, long-held norms and values will need to be rethought. The Forum’s chairman Klaus Schwab has called for a “new global architecture” to safeguard public trust and to help ensure the increasingly globalised world does not become increasingly unequal.
Central to achieving this is Finablr’s view that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. The spread of the internet and digital technologies means many people are becoming more global and more local at the same time, boosting the need for a regional focus and responsiveness.
According to Finablr’s chief executive officer, Promoth Manghat, companies and organisations need to make sure they are locally aligned, with people and customers at the centre of all decisions. In this way it’s possible to be responsive, while also being global, but it requires investment of time and energy to really understand what’s going on.
And it’s not just cultural differences that need to be taken into account. Regional and national disparities also exist in legislation and regulation. Working with different regulators requires a broad expertise that is built over time. As a global entity with operations across 160+ countries, The Finablr network works closely with regulators around the world and across emerging markets.
Technology has a big role to play in helping ensure globalisation is mindful of regional differences, and has already laid the foundations for better responsiveness, connecting people from disparate regions with consumers and businesses.
Insights gleaned by tech can push governments to become more agile, more transparent and better informed, fostering trust and legitimacy and helping stamp out corruption. In India, policymakers hope their move away from cash will help increase the use of digital payments, bolstering trackability and accountability.
Digitalisation can also help empower those who have traditionally been financially excluded, bringing mobile financial services to far-flung destinations and urban centres alike.
Nowhere is this more evident than among migrant populations. As it becomes easier to move for work, and more people do so for economic reasons, it becomes essential to ensure they’re protected. In the UAE, where migrants make up more than 75% of the population, Finablr Network brand, UAE Exchange worked with government entities to introduce the Wages Protection System, an electronic salary transfer system that ensures timely salary to workers.
Designed to streamline salary disbursal and benefit employers and employees, UAE Exchange’s solution Smart Pay now partners with tens of thousands of businesses and enables nearly half a million people to collect their salaries from ATMs or any branch of the UAE Exchange network within two hours of the funds being deposited.
This is just one example of how digital advances can help reshape conventions and improve the empowerment of those at risk of being left behind. It’s easy to see how technology can improve transparency in many other ways.
The future is happening now. As technology brings the world together at an ever-more rapid pace, it’s important to ensure recognise the potential pitfalls, so fewer people are left behind. This represents both a challenge and an opportunity for globalisation, in an ongoing discussion that Finablr is well-placed to contribute to.