Cities That Thrive: Public Financial Innovation as a Catalyst for Urban Resilience

Image to illustrate the new StateUp report Cities that Thrive on Public Financial Innovation and Urban Resilience.

Cities That Thrive: Public Financial Innovation as a Catalyst for Urban Resilience

Cities That Thrive: Public Financial Innovation as a Catalyst for Urban Resilience

StateUp, in collaboration with Visa and the Resilient Cities Network, and as part of their Future Ready Cities initiative, is excited to announce the release of our new joint research report, “Cities That Thrive: Public Financial Innovation as a Catalyst for Urban Resilience.”


By 2050, the vast majority of the world’s population will reside in urban areas. Cities worldwide face escalating resilience challenges driven by climate change, rapid urbanisation, and digital transformation. The demand for innovative solutions to ensure urban systems can withstand, adapt to, and thrive amidst various stresses is urgent. Public financial technologies stand out as key. From digital disbursements to anonymised payments’ data analytics, these technologies can serve as valuable vehicles for supporting critical resilience goals, such as disaster response, social equity, and climate-change adaptation. 

The use of these technologies towards resilience goals is not yet fully realised, and achieving this requires developing and engaging a whole ecosystem of actors, including city government, residents, and the private sector.

Key Insights


Mapping the Landscape

Our report provides an in-depth look at how cities currently engage with public financial technologies. We identify existing gaps and opportunities, highlighting the diverse ways in which cities are beginning to integrate Public Financial Innovation (PFI) into their resilience strategies.

Emerging Trends

Cities are only at the foothills of PFI. For example, cities rarely use insights from payments data to predict and plan for food shortages and ensure food security, or to disburse emergency payments to residents during floods or following an earthquake. Early evidence from our research suggests that these uses could provide a step-change in the urban resilience infrastructure that city governments offer to, and co-create with, their communities.


City Stories

Learn from real-world examples of cities successfully integrating public financial technologies and developing robust urban public finance innovation ecosystems. These case studies from “fast leaders” provide valuable insights from which “fast followers” can learn as they develop their own contextualised approaches.  City stories include:

  • How Mexico City used disbursements to bolster educational outcomes. 
  • How Singapore used payments data to revitalise tourism post-pandemic​. 

Barriers and Strategies

Identify the key barriers to the adoption of public financial technologies and the strategies to overcome them. Our study explores fostering public-private partnerships, enhancing regulatory frameworks, and promoting digital literacy among urban populations. These insights are crucial for cities aiming to build resilient and adaptive financial ecosystems.

Why This Matters Now


  1. Cities face significant financial and broader resource constraints in addressing their key resilience needs. Under such constraints innovation can be key to more effectively and efficiently serving local needs.
  2. Cities are critically concerned about climate change, in every global region. Many opportunities exist for them to engage digital payments solutions, data-driven decision-making, and public purchasing innovation as vehicles to mitigate, adapt to, and respond to the impacts of climate change and extreme weather.
  3. A broader range of city needs, including social equity and financial inclusion, are often underserved by current practices, and public financial innovation has a clear role to play in helping cities to address them.
  4. There is a far greater level of data, insights, and decision-support tools on offer than cities are currently using. Payments and financial data and data analytics, for example, represent a promising opportunity for cities’ planning and response strategies, enabling cities to support local communities and economies in a more tailored and effective way.

“I see a lot of potential benefits of my team’s work and the data work we do for resilience. […] The most success we’ve had is when we start working collaboratively [with resilience teams] from the basis of saying ‘what problem do you want to solve?’ and let’s build something together.”  Theo Blackwell MBE, Chief Digital Officer, London

Despite its potential, PFI is currently under-utilised. Our report provides steps for creating public-purpose innovation ecosystems and lifting barriers to development and adoption of PFI, to better serve residents and visitors in cities around the globe.


We invite city leaders, digital and resilience teams, and private-sector innovators to explore our findings and join us in helping to build cities that not only withstand shocks but thrive amid critical twenty-first century challenges. 


Read the full report: Cities That Thrive: Public Financial Innovation as a Catalyst for Urban Resilience.