Note from the Publisher: FintekNews has been publishing exactly four months today and one thing we’ve learned is that it is far more inclusive and far flung than we could have imagined. The Gates Foundation is also actively involved in the fintech arena through their Level One initiative, which helps Africa’s and South Asia’s poor with access to digital payment programs. Turns out that even in the some of the most poor (and remote) regions on the planet, there is typically cell service and if there’s cell service, then there can be digital payments platforms that facilitate trade.
“Imagine you’re a grocer in Tanzania. The sun sets, and you’re forced to close shop because you—like the majority of those in your country—have no electricity. Then a mobile money loan gives you access to a solar battery, which allows you to charge your phone while keeping the lights on in the evening. You pay for the power you need on a daily basis. You expand your hours. Earn more money. Your child returns to school.
‘This innovation brings me back [to my teenaged years],’ Kosta Peric recently shared during a FinTech Insider interview. The head of the Level One Project for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation spent his youth in Africa, where his father worked as a geophysicist for the United Nations. ‘I remember in Burundi, you didn’t buy a pack of cigarettes; you bought one cigarette. So this notion of…’just what you need’ sachet-type of financial transactions is really what we are looking at.’
Level One gives the poor in Africa and South Asia access to digital payment platforms. As Kosta spoke about the powerful ecosystems he’s deploying, I kept thinking, ‘These countries are innovating out of necessity.’