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Promoting Digital Equity to Ensure a Sustainable Economic Recovery | Mainstage

Programming SPONSOR:visa e1635342693632 - Promoting Digital Equity to Ensure a Sustainable Economic Recovery | Mainstage


Beth Hurvitz, Senior Vice President, Global Head of Social Impact, Visa
Michael Schlein, President and CEO, Acción
Julie Hyman, Anchor, Yahoo Finance
James Scriven, CEO, IDB Invest


Promoting digital equity will be necessary for a sustainable economic recovery. But, as Julie Hyman, Anchor at Yahoo Finance, noted, 57% of the world’s population is unable to access the internet. What steps, she asked the panel, are required to address the digital gap?

For Visa, Beth Hurvitz, Senior Vice President & Global Head of Social Impact, the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated an acceleration of the digital transformation that is here to stay. Numbers show a significant uptick in digital commerce, so those companies that are better equipped for digitization are better able to thrive. Inclusive growth requires more than access; there is a real need to understand and use technology to foster digital equity and ensure that everyone can participate in the global economy.

The global financial system fails 3 billion people around the world—a problem exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. But, to Michael Schlein, President & CEO of Acción, this represents an enormous opportunity to reach people and establish digital equity. One big challenge, stated James Scriven, CEO of IDB Invest, is how we maintain focus on digital equity. Indicators have been going in the wrong direction so new technology is required to close increasing gaps and work together to build back better.

Many businesses suffered deeply during the pandemic, especially the millions of small and micro horizonbusinesses forced to close their doors. Hurvitz explored Visa’s commitment to increasing digitization, investment in equitable asset access, financial education, and skills building. Schlein described that in today’s world, the ability to undertake digital transactions is crucial for companies at all levels and sizes. Small banks and microfinance organizations must help invest in technology and foster change.

Equitable access to digital tools is crucial among all parts of the world, especially in more rural areas where access lags. Scriven suggested that alliances with private companies to improve internet access and with financial institutions to promote investment could help level the playing field.

The pandemic has been devastating but I do think it has accelerated digital innovation and digital transformation, which means I think we can build back a more inclusive world that has digital equity.

Michael Schlein

Partnership is critical from a digital equity perspective—bringing public and private partnerships together to get at the inclusivity and equity in building back to make it a better world.

Beth Hurvitz

Technology is not an end in itself but for us in the development space, it’s a means for development, a means to an end.

James Scriven

It seems clear that all the various stakeholders have an interest in making this happen, whether it is for altruistic reasons or it is for capitalistic reasons.

Julie Hyman

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • Digital equity is crucial to ensure a sustainable economic recovery. Governments and private businesses must help improve digital access in those regions where service lags.
  • Digitization can help small- and medium-sized businesses access capital, services, and markets. Improving their access may help build stronger, more resilient economies.