Banking the Unbanked

October 30, 2017
OpenLedger DEX

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The world of technology has seen rapid growth in the recent years. According to statistics from Internet World Stats, over half of the world’s population has access to the internet, it has grown from 0.4% in the 1995 to 51.7% in 2017.

Although the world is clearly evolving at an exponential pace, there are still major problems in the rural parts of the world. Even though there have been over 700 million new bank accounts opened from 2011-2014, there are still over 2 billion people unbanked, meaning they don’t have access to any kind of financial institution.

Having no bank account makes having financial stability much more difficult. Imagine a store owner in Yemen, he has worked hard for years and has earned some money. In Yemen 93.5% of the people don’t have a bank account and neither does the hardworking shop keeper. What does that mean for him?

It means that every day, when his working hours are over, he has to risk his whole day’s earnings when he has to transport the cash from his store to his home. Even when he doesn’t get mugged when passing through a shady neighbourhood, he still has to keep his savings under the mattress, being susceptible to robbery. In addition, he has almost no opportunity to get a loan to expand his business and to contribute to the country’s economy. The only way he has is to get it from other people, but most of them have him paying unimaginable interests for his loan.

In another example we have a mother with an 8-year-old daughter who lives in Guinea, where the unbanked population makes up over 90% of the country’s population. In order to provide the best possible education for her daughter and to make it possible for her to move to a different country to make a respectable living, the mother has put her daughter to study at the local school. But because she doesn’t have a bank account she has to pay the school fees in cash, waiting in line with the other parents in order to make the payment, losing many hours from work.

Her daughter graduates at the top of her class and with her mother’s hard earned savings she travels to South Africa where the average income is 12 times bigger than in Guinea. Being humbled by her mother’s efforts she wants to send some money back home, so her mother could live a better life, but because she doesn’t have a bank account, the only way the daughter could help her mother, is to transport the money in form of cash in person.

There are millions of other similar cases where a simple bank account could have saved people from a lot of trouble.

The advancements in technology have helped to solve the problem. For example, in the Sub-Saharan Africa, where a lot of the unbanked population lives, 12% of the people have mobile money accounts, that’s over 4x the global average. The means of using their mobile devices to send and store money has lessened the problem of having to build physical financial institutions in the rural parts of the world.

Now in order to further facilitate this trend of financial inclusion the world of finance has to become even more affordable, transparent and accessible. This is where blockchain technology comes in. Every day in the cryptocurrency sector we have the brightest minds on the planet working on problems many experts thought could never be solved, while using some of the most innovative technology the world has ever seen. Blockchain technology holds the keys to reaching the 2 billion unbanked, bringing transparency and justice to a broken financial system, stamping out corruption and exploitation.

At OpenLedger we believe that true progress and mass adoption of blockchain technology will only come from working together. Collaboration is the new tool for global progress and it should be encouraged at every level.

Everyone should realize that a collaborative blockchain is not only a network of computers around the world, but also an ecosystem of humans that are behind the computers. The mixture of humans and computers around the world, working together gives means for supercharging the innovation and advancements in the industry, creating value for the world to use.

Imagine a world where instead of trying to bring your competition down we would collaborate to make the world a better place. Don’t get it wrong, competition is still necessary, but we shouldn’t compete by trying to bring others down. By leveraging both we can innovate at an unprecedented pace, bringing the principles of the sharing economy to the development of the blockchain era itself.

A perfect example to illustrate it is an orchestra. Every musician competes to be the best in his craft by practicing the instrument vigorously on their own, but when it’s time to perform, all the musicians collaborate under the guidance of the conductor, to collectively produce the most breathtaking concert they can. The show would be horrible if every member of the orchestra tried to outperform others.

This is the problem we face right now in the business world. We’re still stuck in the same zero-sum mentality we inherited from the traditional economy: “We don’t collaborate, we compete!” We think it’s time that changed. Only through realizing the true potential of collaboration on the blockchain, we could start eliminating the problems with finance and poverty around the world.

In conclusion, the world of blockchain gives us endless opportunities to change the world for the better by providing financial solutions for even the most rural parts of the world, giving them increased financial stability and security. But in order to do so, we have to give up the old school mindset of competing and opt for a more collaborative way of doing business.

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