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Brazil G20 global fintech competition focuses on sustainable finance innovation

Brazil: the central bank of G20 member nation is running the competition alongside the BIS | Credit: Andrea Meakin (Pixabay)

The latest annual edition of a G20-themed global fintech competition has launched with a focus on developing solutions for sustainable finance to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Organised by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and Banco Central do Brasil (BCB) – the central bank of the country currently holding the rotating G20 presidency – the G20 TechSprint initiative is open to participants worldwide.

The SDGs are 17 targets agreed in 2015 by the UN General Assembly, with the aim of achieving them by 2030. The world is ‘woefully off track’ to achieve them by the 2030 deadline, the UN warned last year.

The 2024 TechSprint – which is badged ‘Technology for the Planet’ – invites the development of solutions in three focus areas: ‘overcoming the barriers to scaling nature-based solutions’; environmental, social and governance (ESG) data reporting and compliance; and ‘accelerating progress’ towards the SDGs.

The competition is the fifth G20 TechSprint after previous versions were co-organised by the BIS alongside the Reserve Bank of India (for India’s G20 presidency in 2023 and focused on cross-border payments), Bank Indonesia (2022 – focused on central bank digital currencies), Banca d’Italia (2021 – focused on green finance) and the Saudi G20 presidency (2020 – focused on RegTech and SupTech).

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Three focus areas

For the 2024 competition the first focus area (also referred to as ‘problem statement’) is focused on the development of technology solutions that ‘incentivise and attract’ sustainable and inclusive investments targeted at biodiversity and nature preservation.

The second category is focused on new technologies to improve the ‘quality, reliability and granularity’ of ESG data to facilitate due diligence, disclosure and management of ESG-associated risks and opportunities by large corporates and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), investors and financial institutions, and/or regulators and supervisors.

The third category is for open source solutions (code designed to be publicly available) to ‘support financial decisions and capital allocation aligned with the SDG goals, including preserving biodiversity, climate change, clean energy, financial education and inclusion, poverty alleviation, etc.’

“The journey towards sustainable finance requires collective action and relentless innovation,” said Agustín Carstens, general manager of the Switzerland-headquartered BIS. “We must continuously push the boundaries of what is possible, leveraging the full spectrum of technological advancements and collaborative partnerships at our disposal.”

“Under Brazil’s G20 presidency, this fifth edition of the G20 TechSprint reinforces Brazil’s and the BCB´s commitment to the sustainability agenda, alongside with our goal to foster financial innovations that can positively transform our reality,” said BCB governor Roberto Campos Neto.

TechSprint timeline

Proposals must be submitted by 31 May, with shortlisted teams given eight weeks to develop their solutions. All shortlisted projects receive a stipend of about $5,000 (about BRL 25,000/£4,000).

An independent panel of experts will choose one winning solution for each of the three focus areas, to be announced by 29 November. The winners will receive an award of $25,000 (about BRL 125,000/£20,000).

The competition is again being partly run via an online platform called APIX (which stands for API Exchange and is operated by a Singapore-headquartered fintech company called Synfindo).

A G20 TechSprint 2024 launch event featuring ‘live’ and pre-recorded remarks, as well as a discussion, was held on 25 April. Proceedings, which ran for just over an hour, were introduced by the BCB’s Joao Evangelista De Sousa Filho.

Brazil took over the G20 presidency from India in December 2023. It is responsible for organising technical meetings and ministerial conferences that will culminate in the 19th G20 Summit scheduled for 18-19 November in Rio de Janeiro.