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Foreign Exchange

Cash management: Finance for an urban future

Rapid urbanization puts pressure on infrastructure. It also raises opportunities for banks to develop a range of electronic payment systems to improve city-dwellers’ lives. Laurence Neville reports.

THE FUTURE IS urban and that future has already arrived. Millennia after the first human settlements were established, the UN announced in 2007 that more than 50% of the world’s population lived in cities. The UN’s Global report on human settlements 2011 predicts that 59% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas by 2030; cities’ headcounts are growing by 67 million every year. Fully 91% of this increase is in developing countries.

"It is estimated that it will take just 15 years for the global urban population to cross 4 billion," says Roland Chalons-Browne, chief executive of Siemens’ financial services division. "About 70% of the world’s population is expected to reside in cities by 2050 – as compared with only 1 billion in 1960. Megacities are growing at a scorching pace, with those in emerging markets growing the fastest."

Anil Menon, president, globalization and smart connected communities at Cisco, notes that urbanization is occurring because people want to improve their access to jobs, healthcare, education and cultural opportunities. However, rapid urbanization might herald a miserable future for much of the world’s population unless ways of addressing problems are changed.

Infrastructure stress

Migration to cities often presages poor living conditions and increased congestion and exposure to pollution.

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