Please join the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion on Friday, April 21 in Washington DC for an event on financial inclusion’s technological future. This event will feature CFI Fellow Leon Perlman and CFI Managing Director Elisabeth Rhyne discussing financial inclusion, the limitations imposed by technology inequality, and the path forward for mobile financial services. The event will also serve as a launch of the research that Leon has been conducting over the past year on this topic.
Leon Perlman, CFI Fellow
Elisabeth Rhyne, CFI
During his fellowship, Leon Perlman investigates existing and evolving technologies in mobile financial services (MFS) – primarily, mobile data “bearer” technologies, access platforms, and user devices – and evaluates the enormous potential of MFS to enable greater financial inclusion and bring millions of customers at the base of the pyramid (BoP) into the formal financial system.
Despite the rapid expansion of 3G and 4G networks and smartphone-based apps over the past decade and the projected growth in the reach and sophistication of MFS in years to come, Leon’s research ultimately suggests that this long-hoped for future has not yet arrived for those who stand to benefit the most from these technologies, especially customers in the developing world who live in rural areas or cannot afford high-end smartphones. There are numerous technical, cost, competition, capacity, security and access challenges that remain significant obstacles to more inclusive MFS growth.
The report demands a response, calling upon providers, vendors and regulators alike to improve upon existing devices, system security and the regulatory environment as it affects the ability of BoP customers to access and use MFS effectively.