Bill and Melinda Gates Want to Fix Another Messy Global Problem: Banking
Thursday, January 22, 2015
Bill and Melinda Gates have taken on some of the world’s messiest problems, funding projects to improve the design of toilets and condoms and even create urine-powered fuel cells. Now, in their annual letter published today, they’re outlining ambitions to tackle another messy sector: banking.
The central thesis of the letter, which lays out goals for the 15-year-old Gates Foundation’s next 15 years, is of unparalleled progress ahead for the world’s poor. (Last year’s annual letter predicted there would bealmost no poor countries by 2035.) As they put it:
Our big bet: The lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history. And their lives will improve more than anyone else’s.
Their argument is predicated on advances in agriculture, health—including progress against youth mortality, polio, malaria, and HIV—and access to education, including online courses delivered to children in the developing world via cellphones.
It’s also based on the belief that mobile banking will transform the lives of the world’s poor. They write:
By 2030, two billion people who don’t have a bank account today will be storing money and making payments with their phones. And by then, mobile money providers will be offering the full range of financial services, from interest-bearing savings accounts to credit to insurance.