The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is using blockchain technology to help the two billion people worldwide who lack bank accounts. The advantages of blockchain is that it’s essentially a secure, reliable digital record-keeping system.
As I am building Miss Kaya, a wealth management platform for women, I’m particularly excited to see how these new technologies could improve the financial lives of unbanked women in Asia.
The initiative is part of the foundation’s Financial Services for the Poor program ― specifically, its Level One Project, which gives governments and central banks a framework for creating national digital payments systems that anyone can use, even those who live on a few dollars a day.
The project started in 2015 and has since developed an open-source platform that lets various financial services to work seamlessly as a payment service for the poor.
It’s been in development for a while, but last month (October) the foundation released new open-source software that utilises technology developed by distributed ledger startup Ripple.
The service, called Mojaloop, is aimed at providing an interoperability layer between financial institutions, payment providers and other firms that offer such services to unbanked.
Ripple’s Interledger protocol, which is used to transact between different financial networks, is being used to help accomplish that goal.
At present, some 2 billion people lack access to bank accounts, according to World Bank data, a figure just 20 percent lower than in 2011.
If blockchain initiatives like this one by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation can help, I’m all for it! And despite the limitations that currently exist, I’m confident the technology will be improved quicker than many expect.
Particularly, I would like to see more new technologies being leveraged to help women in developing markets ― both banked and unbanked ― enjoy better financial security and services.
Gina Heng, founder of Miss Kaya and entrepreneur, noticed that the existing financial management services available sounded too complex, filled with jargon and hence too dull.
It is time for a change given the role women play in today’s world professionally and otherwise. Miss Kaya’s mission is to empower women and allow them to achieve financial freedom and live the lifestyles they want.