The Constituency Group of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, comprising central bank governors and finance ministers of 15 countries, met near Split on Saturday and mostly discussed financial technology.
Croatian National Bank (HNB) governor Boris Vujcic said meetings like this took place in a different country every year and that this one discussed financial technology, innovations, cryptocurrencies and artificial intelligence.
He said there were two angles to it, one being innovations and what they brought to the financial industry, banks and citizens, and the other one being the challenges they put before regulators.
"This is happening and will continue to happen quite swiftly in the years ahead and both the industry and regulators should prepare for that," Vujcic said. "We concluded that we need a common international platform because these aren't things that can be regulated at national level."
He said financial technology primarily improved and increased productivity in the financial industry and the accessibility, speed and simplicity of services for citizens and companies although it also created risk.
Vujcic said the first financial technology was the post-war credit card, followed by ITMs, the Internet, mobile banking, and now the next step is being taken. He said people in Croatia invested in cryptocurrencies, as did people everywhere else, although statistical data on it does not exist. The HNB is telling people that they are investing at their own risk because these are not currencies but speculative assets, he added.
Croatian Finance Minister Zdravko Maric said Croatia and the World Bank had been cooperating for years on various projects and that the Bank had invested EUR 3 billion in Croatian projects to date. He said the Bank had good cooperation with both the public and the private sector.
"Our last reform of the road sector in Croatia was done in cooperation with the World Bank. At the moment we have several other very important projects, notably in healthcare and welfare. We are working on a document for a medium term cooperation strategy which we will finish by the end of the year and which defines the next six years of cooperation," Maric said.
"In it, we underlined that we want additional help and cooperation with the World Bank concerning the population issue and youth employment," he explained.
World Bank Executive Director Frank Heemskerk said the meeting discussed big challenges such as financial innovations and risk management.
"We can learn from each other, which is the World Bank's most important role. The knowledge we get from other countries and their companies is very important to us," he said.
Asked by reporters about reforms in Croatia, IMF Executive Director Anthony De Lannoy said he was satisfied and that there could always be discussions about the speed of their implementation and the time they were being implemented.
The meeting of the Constituency Group, which is led by the Netherlands and Belgium, brought together about 100 participants.
The Constituency Group comprises the Netherlands, Belgium, Croatia, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Montenegro, Georgia, Israel, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania and Ukraine.