Viewpoint: Stop talking about financial inclusion. Identity inclusion must come first

Thursday, April 12, 2018

By Husayn Kassai

In a fractured world, financial inclusion is crucial to building a shared future. Open access to financial services is fundamental to giving people the tools to better their lives. In the past few years, a lot has been done to lay the groundwork for an inclusive financial infrastructure. First came internet access; now we’re working on global connectivity – and next comes identity.

When it comes to financial services, we tend to think that proving our identity begins at the credit bureau or bank branch, as a necessary step in the process of building up a credit history. But that’s back to front: identity and financial services intertwine well before this point.

Worldwide 1.1 billion people don’t have a documented identity and fixing that has to come first if we’re going to get financial inclusion right. It’s well within the realms of possibility – the technology now exists to help power access to identity and that, in turn, enables financial inclusion.

The benefits of identity inclusion have been recognized by almost every governmental agency. It’s a frequently-cited fact that a 1% increase in inclusion would result in a 3.6% increase in GDP. It’s not surprising, then, that it’s an SDG goal to provide everyone with a legal identity by 2030. But how do we do this? There are a number of misconceptions we need to overcome first.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Magill.

Source: World Economic Forum (link opens in a new window)

Finance, Technology
digital identity, financial inclusion, SDGs