Home Policy & Governance Global Government Fintech’s 23 people to watch in 2023 (and why)

Global Government Fintech’s 23 people to watch in 2023 (and why)

Global Government Fintech identifies 23 people from government departments to central banks/regulators and international financial institutions worth your attention in the 12 months ahead

Listed alphabetically

Aliyu Ahmed
Permanent secretary, Ministry of Finance, Nigeria
Ahmed is permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance in Africa’s most populous country, where government entities are keen to champion the use of fintech-enabled solutions to help reach the unbanked and underbanked (55 per cent of Nigerian adults do not have an account at a regulated institution, according to the World Bank’s Global Findex Database 2021). Nigeria became the first country in Africa to launch a CBDC more than one year ago and the central bank – where Ahmed is a non-executive director – has recently stepped up efforts to ensure the eNaira helps with financial inclusion. But Nigeria’s push to adopt digital currency and move towards a cashless society is being increasingly questioned and, as 2023 dawns, also proving controversial. Ahmed has been in his ministry role for more than two years, having previously worked as senior adviser to the executive director responsible for Angola, Nigeria and South Africa at the World Bank in Washington DC.

Mstyslav Banik
Director of eServices Development Directorate – Ministry of Digital Transformation, Ukraine
While the Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Finance, alongside the National Bank of Ukraine, continue to be fundamental pillars supporting Ukraine’s financial systems and payments (both within and from outside the country), initiatives spearheaded by the Ministry of Digital Transformation have proved invaluable as Russia’s attacks continue. The ministry was created in 2019, with Banik – an entrepreneur before moving into government – among the champions of Ukraine’s ‘State in a Smartphone’ vision and ‘Diia’ e-governance app/portal (launched in 2020). Progress prior to Russia’s invasion in digitising welfare payments and enabling ‘remote’ ID (vital given the challenge of distributing payments by non-digital means) are among the areas that show how pan-government enthusiasm for, and investment in, ‘e-government’ is serving the nation well. More recent examples such as the UN refugee agency piloting blockchain technology and USDC stablecoin for disbursements show how the value that Ukraine authorities are placing in fintech has been enhanced rather than diminished during the war.

Rajesh Bansal
Chief executive, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Innovation Hub
Bansal is the inaugural chief executive of the RBI Innovation Hub, whose creation was announced in 2020. His role is to champion fintech-related initiatives both inside and beyond the RBI – the central bank for the world’s second most populous nation (which last month began the first phase of a digital rupee pilot). A member of the founding team of India’s well-known Aadhaar ID scheme, the initial years of Bansal’s career were spent at the RBI working on access to finance for small businesses, financial inclusion and payment systems, before moving on to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). He has also worked in the private sector for the consultancy BFA (Bankable Frontier Associates).

Bruno Batavia
Financial sector specialist, Banco Central do Brasil
Batavia is a long-serving innovation specialist in the central bank of South America’s most populous nation. He is closely involved with Brazil’s LIFT Lab (Financial and Technological Innovations Laboratory) – an ‘innovation ecosystem’ the BCB manages alongside National Federation of Associations of Central Bank Servers (Fenasbac) to encourage fintech-related proposals – and the ‘LIFT Challenge Real Digital’ (named after the real, Brazil’s national currency) as Brazil takes steps towards the introduction of a CBDC. Other big BCB innovative projects and priorities – typically, of course, presented by governor Roberto Campos Neto – include instant payments system ‘Pix’ and the development of open banking/finance.

Mu Changchun
Director – Digital Currency Research Institute, People’s Bank of China
The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) is at an advanced stage of rolling out its digital yuan (officially known as the e-CNY), putting the world’s most populated country well ahead of other major nations when it comes to central bank digital currency (CBDC). With the PBoC’s progress being analysed closely given China’s size and significance, Mu Changchun has become its international public face: a regular speaker at events on the topic of digital money. Previously deputy director-general of the central bank’s payment and settlement department, he has also worked for the African Development Bank.

Doris Dietze
Head of Digital Finance, Payment Services and Cybersecurity, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Finance
Dietze enjoys a multi-faceted brief in Germany’s Federal Ministry of Finance, with responsibilities including fintech strategy development as well as regulatory matters. She spoke at a couple of Global Government Fintech events last year about initiatives to encourage fintech developments in Europe’s largest economy. A former speechwriter in the ministry, she has also described the federal administration’s plan to boost investment in public sector digital technologies and skills. “We need a different approach to how government and government agencies want to provide services to the greater public,” she said during our ‘Fintech and the future: where is the greatest potential for central governments’ use of fintech solutions?’ webinar in November. “There’s a lot already done, however there’s still work to do, and things that could be improved.”

Nick Down
Head of Payments, HM Revenue & Customs (UK)
Down has been the driving force behind the HMRC’s globally pioneering adoption of open banking for tax payments and has spoken on international panels showcasing open banking’s possibilities for public authorities. The UK department created global government fintech history in March 2021 when it introduced an open banking-enabled ‘Pay by bank account’ option (button) for people making online self-assessment tax returns – believed to be the first time any government in the world had embedded open banking within its own operations. What’s next for HMRC’s use of fintech? Down is among the senior figures in the department with a hand on the tiller.

Lyle Horsley
Head of Fintech, South Africa Reserve Bank (SARB)
Horsley’s day-job is divisional head in SARB’s fintech unit but she also chairs South Africa’s Intergovernmental Fintech Working Group (IFWG) – a relatively innovative entity in itself. Created more than six years ago, the IFWG seeks to ensure its member entities, which include the National Treasury and South African Revenue Service, are co-ordinated in capitalising on fintech’s opportunities and assessing emerging risks. In her IFWG role, Horsley, who is a lawyer by background, recently introduced a feedback report on its ‘initial regulatory sandbox experience’. SARB, meanwhile, is well progressed in its explorations of the potential of central bank digital money (both in the retail and wholesale space). South Africa is Africa’s largest and most mature financial services market, the consultancy McKinsey has noted.

Ravi Menon
Managing director, Monetary Authority of Singapore
Menon has chalked up more than a decade as managing director of the fintech-savvy MAS (see Sopnendu Mohanty entry, below). But, beyond MAS, this month also marks one year since Menon – one of the best-known figures in global government fintech – was appointed chair of the Network for Greening the Financial System, which brings together more than 120 central banks and supervisors, as well as 19 observers, to share best practice and contribute to the development of environment and climate-risk management, and to encourage mainstream finance to support green investments (a field in which MAS itself has been particularly active recently). Before becoming MAS’s managing director he was permanent secretary at Singapore’s Ministry of Trade & Industry and deputy secretary at the Ministry of Finance.

Sopnendu Mohanty
Chief fintech officer, Monetary Authority of Singapore

Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) pushes the frontiers of global fintech innovation and so inclusion of its chief fintech officer on our list (alongside his colleague Ravi Menon – see above) is also pretty much a no-brainer. Projects that Mohanty is involved with include Project Orchid (for ‘purpose-bound’ digital money) and Project Guardian (relating to asset tokenisation) but ultimately it’s the broad sweep of MAS’s fintech-related agenda – as captured by the annual Singapore FinTech Festival – that propels Mohanty onto our list. He took up his current role in 2015, having previously worked for global bank Citi.

Ken Montgomery
First vice-president and chief operating officer, Boston Fed & FedNow programme leader
2023 is due to see the launch of FedNow, the new round-the-clock real-time payment and settlement service that the Federal Reserve Banks are developing to support faster payments across the US. Boston Fed-based Montgomery is leading the rollout of the service, which is the first new business line for the Federal Reserve System in 40 years and aims to be transformative for US payments. He has said that FedNow will enable financial institutions to use FedNow “as a springboard to provide innovative solutions to their customers.” Prior to joining the Boston Fed in 2011, Montgomery was executive vice-president and Federal Reserve System chief technology officer based out of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. 

Gwyneth Nurse
Director-general – financial services, HM Treasury (UK)
An HM Treasury stalwart for two decades, Nurse this month completes her first year in a role that sees her leading on HMT’s work in areas crucial to the British economy, including financial services competitiveness. Although HMT’s day-to-day fintech work is led by civil servants including payments and fintech unit head William Morello, Nurse has a key role in big international plays such as the recent seventh ‘UK-Singapore Financial Dialogue’ (which saw the UK and Singapore committing to ‘deepen’ fintech collaboration) and is also the latest chair (on the HMT side) of the HMT-Bank of England (BoE) central bank digital currency (CBDC) taskforce (created in April 2021). A consultation on a potential digital pound is imminent. In this regard, HMT’s links on the BoE side include the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street’s fintech/CBDC director Tom Mutton and the Bank’s long-serving head of future technology Will Lovell (who describes his brief as exploring how ‘new technologies are influencing the financial system and how they can be exploited to meet the Bank’s mission’ but who has also represented the BoE in CBDC discussions).

Oleksii Shaban
Deputy governor, National Bank of Ukraine

With Russia’s attacks ongoing, the NBU’s focus is on ensuring continued operation of Ukraine’s financial system. Shaban – who will mark three years at Ukraine’s central bank next month, having joined in February 2020 as director of its payment systems and innovation development department (and appointed as a deputy governor in August the same year) – is one of the central bank’s deputy governors. A champion of its exploration of a potential central bank digital currency (CBDC), he said in the run-up to Christmas that a potential e-hryvnia ‘can be the next step in the evolution of Ukraine’s payment infrastructure, contribute to the digitalisation of the economy, further the spread of non-cash payments, increase [payments] transparency and confidence in the national currency as a whole’. Before moving to the NBU, Shaban worked for almost 25 years at Ukrainian retail banking giant PrivatBank – widely seen as a banking innovator.

Kate O’Rourke
First assistant secretary – Consumer Data Right division, Commonwealth Treasury, Australia
O’Rourke’s team is delivering Australia’s Consumer Data Right (CDR) – the high-profile legislation to give citizens greater control over their consumer data. The Treasury leads on CDR policy and programme delivery, including development of rules and advice to government on next steps in the CDR, working closely with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. The CDR legislation went live two-and-a-half years ago, with the country’s four major banks mandated to share access to consumer data for a range of personal accounts (with the customer’s permission) – the launch of open banking in Australia. The CDR moved beyond financial services into energy three months ago. The overall CDR initiative is being watched by many governments and open banking experts worldwide as it is an example of how the data-sharing principles that underpin open banking can be rolled out to further sectors. But as the CDR grows, so do the stakes: for example, concern over cyber-risks. O’Rourke moved to the Treasury in 2017 from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

Jean Pesme
Global director – finance (finance, competitiveness & innovation global practice), World Bank

Pesme will this year start his third decade with the World Bank, where he has risen up the ranks to lead its work to promote the development of ‘sound, stable, sustainable and inclusive’ financial systems (with focus areas including digital financial services and women’s financial inclusion). The Frenchman, who previously worked in the French Treasury, has written recently on topics including CBDCs’ role in helping with financial inclusion and digitising government-to-person payments. On the latter topic, the World Bank is behind the ‘G2Px Initiative’, launched in early 2020 in tandem with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to improve government-to-person payments through digitisation.

Valerie Szczepanik
Director – FinHub, US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
It is just over two years since the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announcedthat its Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology, commonly known as FinHub, was to become a standalone office – with Szczepanik at the helm. Among various functions, FinHub co-ordinates work on matters related to financial innovation and serves as the SEC’s fintech liaison to policymakers and regulators, both domestic and international. Szczepanik joined the SEC 25 years ago and has vast experience in the application of laws to emerging (and often controversial) digital asset technologies: useful given that the White House published a ‘comprehensive framework’ for the responsible development of digital assets in September 2022.

Ajay Seth
Secretary – Department of Economic Affairs (Ministry of Finance), India
India has just taken over the rotating G20 12-month presidency (1 December 2022-30 November 2023) and the Department of Economic Affairs (within the Ministry of Finance) is leading on finance track workstreams. Seth, who took up the role of secretary in the department almost two years ago, co-chaired (alongside Reserve Bank of India deputy governor Dr Michael Patra) the first G20 finance and central bank deputies meeting held under the country’s presidency (13-14 December). The first G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting will be held from 23-25 February 2023, placing India’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman global centre-stage. Priorities include financial inclusion, as well the Financial Stability Board (FSB)’s call in October 2022 for regulatory authorities to shift from analysis to implementation in the next phase of activity under the ‘G20 Roadmap for Enhancing Cross-Border Payments’.

Cecelia Skingsley
Head, Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Innovation Hub
Skingsley is entering her fourth full month as head of BIS’s growing Innovation Hub network as it looks to foster collaboration among central banks in the field of innovative financial technology. In taking up the high-profile and influential Switzerland-based role last year, the Stockholm native succeeded the charismatic Benoît Cœuré, who left BIS to run France’s competition watchdog. Previously Sveriges Riksbank’s first deputy governor, Skingsley has five-year term with BIS (and is also on its executive committee). Since being set up in 2019, the global footprint of the Innovation Hub has expanded to eight locations around the world.

Abraham Tachjian
Open banking lead, Canada
Tachjian is nearing the first anniversary of his appointment as Canada’s lead for open banking. Previously a director in the financial services practice of professional services giant PwC, he is charged with leading the implementation of the country’s system for open banking (often referred to in Canada using the term ‘consumer-directed finance’). The country’s progress in developing a legal and regulatory framework for open banking (which enables consumers to transfer their financial data between financial institutions and accredited third parties such as fintech companies in a secure and consumer-friendly way) has lagged nations such as the UK and (more recently) Australia, so the spotlight is on Tachjian and his team of Department of Finance officials to deliver.

Sunayna Tuteja
Chief innovation officer, Federal Reserve System
Tuteja is approaching two years in a newly created role that sees her seeking to inject Silicon Valley vibes into the world of banking supervision and central banking. Previously in the private sector (most recently at US stockbroking company TD Ameritrade), Tuteja delivered a keynote speech at a European Central Bank-hosted event in September 2022 during which she joked that when a recruiter called her about the Fed role she first thought it was a prank as she had “spent my career arguing with the Fed about DeFi and crypto and Bitcoin”. She enjoys getting stuck into, in her words, ‘gnarly problems at the nexus of tech, finance and policy’ and her Fed role certainly offers plenty of that.

Evelien Witlox
Programme manager – digital euro, European Central Bank (ECB)
The ECB’s two-year investigation phase into a potential digital euro is on track to conclude this autumn. A decision to launch a digital euro, or not, will follow. One year on from joining the Frankfurt-based ECB in January last year, Witlox has enjoyed a growing profile, delivering updates and answering questions about the high-profile CBDC project (proving an in-demand speaker at the Sibos conference in Amsterdam in October 2022, for example). She left a private-sector role at ING, where she was global director of payments, to move to the ECB, where she is part of the senior management of the Directorate General (DG) Market Infrastructure and Payments.

Fatima Yasmin
Senior secretary – Finance Division, Ministry of Finance, Bangladesh
Yasmin is the first female senior secretary to be appointed by Bangladesh’s Ministry of Finance. The career civil servant took up the role – through which she is also on the board of directors of the country’s central bank – in July last year, shortly after government presented a three-year strategy (‘National Digital Payments Roadmap 2022-2025’) for the use of innovative technologies as it looks to transform Bangladesh’s payments ecosystem and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Clearly fintech-enabled progress is a multi-agency effort in what is the eighth biggest country in the world by population, with the UNDP-supported multi-faceted ‘Aspire to Innovate (a2i)’ initiative (project director: Dr Dewan Muhammad Humayun Kabir) and Cabinet Division (cabinet secretary: Kabir Bin Anwar – appointed last month) among the pivotal elements.

Nouran Youssef 
Senior financial sector specialist, Arab Monetary Fund (AMF)

Youssef leads the AMF’s Arab regional fintech working group and is the driving force behind the FinxAr ‘Index of Modern Financial Technologies in the Arab Countries’ (second edition in production). The AMF, whose director-general is His Excellency Dr Abdulrahman Al Hamidy, is increasingly encouraging its 22 member central banks to explore fintech’s possibilities. As a recent example, the AMF-owned Arab Regional Payments Clearing and Settlement Organisation (ARPCSO) has just started operating a cross-border service (via its Buna platform) to enable pensioners in the Arab world who are residing in a different country to their homeland to receive payments more quickly. Youssef worked for Egypt’s Ministry of Finance until moving to the AMF almost seven years ago and has led or co-authored numerous other fintech dossiers.

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Ian is editor of Global Government Fintech and also writes for media including City AM and #DisruptionBanking. He is former UK director for the pan-European media network Euractiv (2011-2018), editor of Public Affairs News (2007-2011) and news editor of PR Week (2000-2007). He was shortlisted for ‘Editor of the Year’ at the British Society of Magazine Editors (BSME) Awards in 2010. He began his career in Bulgaria at English-language weekly the Sofia Echo.