Recently, Bill and Melinda Gates published their annual letter stating that one of their future goals is to improve global banking. Global digital finance, while important, is only part of the goal. The other half, the part most overlooked, is the general use of financial institutions, both traditional and mobile.
Roughly 2.5 billion adults worldwide don’t have bank accounts, according to the World Bank. I find this number astounding. I have three bank accounts, and have had two since I was seventeen. This astronomical number of people who do not have bank accounts does not include the amount of teens that are eligible for a bank account worldwide, which I assume, is high as well.
Like many Americans, I can hardly imagine not having a bank account, and not using mobile and online capabilities to pay my bills, transfer funds, and receive my direct deposit. We as a country are used to the hassle-free ways of digital finance. Many developing countries are focusing on getting their populations to utilize financial institutions to begin with, let alone mobile banking.
However, Bill and Melinda predict a large growth of mobile-money systems in the near future to support global consumerism, and bring financial services in developing countries up to par with those of high-tech countries.
I’m sure the next time I launch my banking app on my mobile device, or walk into my local branch to pay my bills, I will be reminded of how far the payments industry has come, and how far it still has to go.