Financial Access at Birth: A Real Possibility

> Posted by Holly Padgett
Can financial access and citizenship feasibly begin at birth? According to the Financial Access at Birth (FAB) initiative, with the right resources and momentum, it can. Bhagwan Chowdhry, FAB’s founder, recently published an article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) that highlights the main ideas behind FAB and addresses some of the tough questions raised by supporters of the program.
The aim of FAB is to provide an initial deposit – say $100 – in an electronic savings account for every child at the time of birth. The bank account would be paired with a universal ID and mobile technology, creating a powerful system of incentives that would foster financial inclusion and possibly access to other services.  Ultimately this system would lay the “plumbing” for numerous social, financial, and health services.  According to Chowdhry, “it is an investment for an economically democratic society”.
FAB, which has been hosted by CFI since 2010, has been received with enthusiasm from students, executives, and the media. It has since developed its model through research and expert consultations, with the next step of developing pilot programs and implementation techniques.
In the SSIR article, Chowdhry explains the incentives that would motivate banks to become more financially inclusive and discusses how FAB would work to prevent fraud. Chowdhry also gives a brief overview of how FAB would prove to be economically viable, with benefits far outweighing the initial investment.
Chowdhry is steadfast in maintaining the importance of expanding financial access: “One thing that is certain and nonnegotiable is our unwavering belief that every human deserves the dignity of financial citizenship and that financial inclusion for all is within reach.”
To read the full article, click here.
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