UNSGSA Queen Máxima Opening Remarks at the Colombia Fintech Association Conference

Bogotá, Colombia
Queen Máxima delivers remarks at a fintech conference in Bogota, Colombia.
UNSGSA Queen Máxima is pictured delivering opening remarks at a conference held by the Colombia Fintech Association in Bogota, Colombia, on 28 February 2024. Photo credit: Patrick van Katwijk

H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, in her capacity as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA), delivered opening remarks at a Colombia Fintech Association Conference held on 28 February 2024 in Bogota, Colombia. Original remarks were delivered in Spanish.


Good morning, distinguished guests, innovators, and change-makers. It is a genuine pleasure to stand before you today, and be back in Colombia, a country that, over the past decade, has not just witnessed but crafted its own narrative of transformation and resilience in financial inclusion.

Ten years ago, my journey as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate brought me here, to a Colombia on the brink of a financial revolution. Back then, merely 30% of adults had access to the formal financial system. Fast forward to today, and that figure has impressively doubled. From rolling out user-friendly ID systems to boosting agent networks, Colombia has put in place many key policies enabling financial inclusion to flourish.

But let's pause for a moment and think about what these numbers truly mean. They represent families planning for a brighter future, entrepreneurs launching businesses, and individuals managing shocks, like the COVID-19 pandemic. Colombia's response, through initiatives like Ingreso Solidario, showcased the power of digital finance, reaching millions with emergency funds, many experiencing digital payments for the first time.

Yet, as we celebrate these milestones, we are reminded of the journey ahead. Financial access is merely the first step. True empowerment comes from using financial tools to navigate life's complexities. Despite our progress, too many Colombians still face barriers to saving, borrowing, and insuring against the unexpected.

This is where the magic of fintech comes into play. You, the innovators in this room, are the architects of the next wave of financial solutions. Your work supports small businesses, connects rural communities to the global marketplace, and promotes climate resilience. But beyond these remarkable achievements, there is a call to deepen our focus on financial health.

Financial health is not just about numbers in a bank account. It is about creating a society where every individual has the tools to manage their financial life, respond to shocks, and achieve their dreams. In Colombia, where nearly half of the population still struggles to find emergency funds, fintech has the potential to build financial health and transform lives.

Consider the global landscape, where fintech solutions are not just improving financial well-being but also driving business growth and customer loyalty. For instance, a digital app by a leading US bank now helps over 10 million users manage their finances, from budgeting to saving for big purchases. It has brought a $55 billion-dollar increase in deposit accounts. This is not just good ethics — it is good business.

As we look towards the future, open finance beckons as a key priority in Colombia. This can lead to more competition, better customer service, and a broader range of financial products, from bank accounts to payment services. Fintech companies and regulators can join forces to create an open finance system that evens the odds and focuses on delivering top-notch services to customers.

Now is time to tear down the walls that have kept financial services out of reach for too many. By embracing open finance, we can pave the way for more personalized, accessible, and empowering financial products.

In closing, let me say this: the story of financial inclusion in Colombia is far from finished. It is a narrative still being written by every person in this room. Together, let's commit to making financial health and open finance not just an aspiration but a reality for all Colombians.

Thank you for your dedication, your innovation, and your belief in a future where financial inclusion and financial health help form the bedrock of a thriving society. Let's continue to lead with courage, collaboration, and a deep commitment to transforming lives.