The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has recently created a focus group whose purpose is to develop different methods of affordable financial services, in hopes of making financial inclusion a reality for the nearly 2.5 billion adults around the world who don’t currently have a bank account.
The open focus group has been organized by ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure in response to a request put forth by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The aim of the focus group is to develop a standardized mobile money platform that can be rolled out using existing Information and Communication Technology (ICT), and then adopted in short order everywhere from Calcutta to Cartagena.
There are, of course, a number of benefits to standardizing the platforms and delivery. First, the costs of implementation will be considerably less and easier to absorb by service providers. Secondly, developing an international standard will make it easier for different operators to manage the system as it goes live. Lastly, because everything will be aligned to the same standards, implementation can happen quickly, regardless of where on the map the system is put in place. This means that within a short period of time, billions of people could gain access to basic financial services that can help transform their lives and put their financial futures on solid ground.
The ITU focus group is open to participation by anyone who is interested and has the ability to contribute ideas and solutions that will make international standardization and interoperable digital financial services a reality. Furthermore, the group is in need of individuals who can help develop regulatory tool kits and create informational primers that can be reviewed by policymakers and regulatory agencies. Combined, these skills and the individuals who provide them will make implementation of these recommendations possible.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it — access to affordable financial services is the key to empowering people and improving economies around the world. This is something we should all strive for, because in the end, it means a brighter future for everyone. The smart money solution is to use existing technologies and standardized systems to make that happen as soon as we can.
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