Citi looks to tech and non-profits to drive financial inclusion; Gates talks bitcoin and biometrics

Citi looks to tech and non-profits to drive financial inclusion; Gates talks bitcoin and biometrics

Citi is working with non-profit organisation Catalyst Miami on a tech-based financial inclusion programme that it believes could be replicated across the country.

The Ways 2 Wealth initiative will enable Catalyst Miami clients in Florida to apply for a savings account online through a purpose-built web portal.

Bob Annibale, global director, Citi Community Development and Citi Microfinance, says: "It seems simple, but by enabling low-income individuals to make fewer stops on their way to financial inclusion while working directly with their trusted nonprofit, we think it will have a meaningful impact.

Alongside the ability to take deposits from ATMs in local convenience stores, Ways 2 Wealth participants will also attend trainings, engage in financial coaching sessions with Catalyst Miami, and set their own personal financial goals. Participants who successfully complete the programme will receive incentives of up to $125 after six months.

"Initiatives like this are critical in a state like Florida, which suffers from high rates of financial exclusion," says Annibale. "Ways 2 Wealth is just one example of how the touch points for banking underserved populations must - and will - be different than touch points of the past, so that more people can access financial products for their economic stability."

It's a theme which was hammered home to bankers attending the annual Sibos convention in Boston by closing plenary speaker Bill Gates. As Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates explained the foundation's work to bring financial services to the poor, and highlighted how digital financial services and partnerships can provide opportunities for financial institutions to serve people in the developing world.

Speaking to a packed house, Gates told bankers that the Foundation was prepared to partner with the banking industry to develop low-cost digital payments and identity services leveraging the ubiquitous mobile phone to bring more than two billion individuals in emerging nations into the formal economy.

"The cost has to be extremely low and the volume has to be very high," he said. "We want the platform to be so flexible that the companies involved in the payment system don't have to be the companies that make the loans."

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, gates expounded on the idea, citing the potential of innovations in biometric identification by Apple and digital currencies like bitcoin to drive down costs and make financial services more affordable for the poorest people in society.

Comments: (1)

João Bohner
João Bohner - Independent Consultant - Carapicuiba 03 October, 2014, 14:05Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

How many 'unbanked' will be financially included if bank's operational costs drops tenfold (not 10%) ?

That's my proposal through "The Bank of the Future" Enterprise Architecture. I'm open to discuss.