On the re-opening of SLPP Office … “We would never encourage violence” John Benjamin...

Sierra Leone Business: Fintech will help bring the unbanked into the financial system

As the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), recently launched the Bali Fintech Agenda, President Jim Yong Kim said that it comes with enormous potential that will see the two-thirds of the 1.7 billion unbanked adults in the world have a mobile phone, and fintech can help bring them into the financial system. This agenda, the World Bank Boss says is a framework for policymakers to foster fintech’s potential and mitigate possible risks. Fintech, including online banking, mobile phone-based transactions, and block chain is transforming the way people move money and do business around the world. It is also expanding access to bank accounts, credit, and insurance. To showcase how technology can accelerate progress toward both improving human capital and financial inclusion, the Bank and IMF invited top innovators to the Annual Meetings to showcase their work, which highlighted advancements in health, education, and fintech. President Kim said that in health, technology solutions can deliver more cost-effective and responsive services. Some examples he said included the use of AI in healthcare to leverage data for more informed decision-making, telemedicine to increase the availability of healthcare providers and specialists, and mobile diagnostic tools that expand access to remote and rural areas. The digital health start-up Babylon has developed a mobile app that uses AI and machine learning to set up virtual consultations with doctors and health professionals. In Rwanda, more than 2 million people use the app – around 30 percent of people 16 and over. And last spring, Babylon announced a partnership with WeChat in China, where 1 billion users can get instant healthcare advice through their mobile phones. Technology he continued can also help make education and training systems more flexible, adaptive, and responsive to the rapidly evolving nature of work. “It can boost the capabilities of teachers and democratize access to the best teaching material by providing them online. It offers the opportunities for personalized learning” he added. An example is the Mindspark app, which uses millions of data points from student tests to figure out common mistakes children make on math problems and then design remedial exercises for each student. This platform has helped 80,000 students across India improve math and Hindi skills for a fraction of the cost of attending school. The Innovation Showcase also highlighted innovations in Fintech that are helping close gender and small business finance gaps and reach people in countries where financial systems are underdeveloped. Innovative and low-cost financial products have given 1.2 billion people access to financial services since 2011. Over the past five years, more than 700 million people have been brought into the regulated financial system for the first time. Now about half of all adults send or receive payments digitally. Fintech advancements have also made it easier to start and grow businesses. One of the companies in the Innovation Showcase was Stripe, whose payments platform supports millions of entrepreneurs around the world. “We plan to work with Stripe to survey entrepreneurs from over 100 countries to better understand from the ground up the legal, regulatory, and bureaucratic bottlenecks for companies doing business on the internet, and the policies that help digital entrepreneurship thrive” he hoped. The Bank he added is working to get much better at connecting our clients with technologies, data, and expertise to solve development challenges. One successful program both institutions are expanding is TechEmerge, which links technology innovators from around the world to opportunities in emerging markets. In India alone, it has successfully matched 17 global innovators with 15 private healthcare providers, ranging from multi-specialty hospitals to diagnostic centers, providing services such as mobile eye screening and tests for fetal lung maturity. “By raising aspirations and changing the nature of work, technology makes investments in people more urgent. We’re prepared to help countries make critical investments in their people and to harness the potential of technology: connecting people with the financial system, improving health and learning; and accelerating progress toward a world free of poverty” President Kim promised.

By Zainab Iyamide Joaque

Monday October 29, 2018.

Comments are closed.