When we asked Bill Gates to edit The Verge this month, he pointed to digital banking solutions like M-PESA as a technology that will revolutionize the lives of the poor in the near future.
"In the next 15 years, digital banking will give the poor more control over their assets and help them transform their lives," he wrote in his annual letter. "By 2030, 2 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."
Mobile money is a fast-growing industry across many parts of the developing world. But can it really transform the lives of those living on just a few dollars a day?
♦ This was a very interesting and new thought proposed by Bill Gates, something many people have not thought about or gave mention to. The rise rise mobile payment technology can have a dramatic impact on the lives of poor people. Technology allows those who were once exposed to excess risk to conduct business from a safe distance and often times at lower cost.
♦ A true to life example of this was brought to the forefront. M-PESA is a mobile service that allows Kenyans to store and transfer their funds using only a cell phone, it has revolutionized how the Kenyan women sold their products. Before the invent of M-PESA, the women with cash only. To sell their fish, they had to go by bus to fish markets, which cost them both time and money.
Since the adoption of M-PESA, the businesswomen are able to receive their payments electronically and send the products by bus. "Where it may have taken a woman a week to sell two bags of fish in Nairobi, she now spends one morning buying and sending the fish on a bus to Nairobi for sale by her customers," reports the study. This allows the women to save more of their earnings and gives them the ability to use their time more productively, the women reported being able to make long-term investments: sending their kids to higher-quality schools and being able to build for themselves stronger and more durable homes to stand up against the strong seasonal floods.
♦ The safety aspect of mobile payments can not be understated. Losing a day's wage to robbery can have a huge effect on the life of someone who is already struggling and poor. This kind of mobile technology not only helps increase business efficiency and saves time but helps people living in dangerous areas stay out of harm's way while still being able to conduct business and make a living.