In theory, financial services should be available to everyone, regardless of economic status. However, reality paints a different picture. The lack of financial inclusion that extends to all classes is a serious cause of concern, which has prompted Mastercard to host the Mastercard Foundation Symposium on Financial Inclusion.Held in Turin, Italy from July 16 to 18, this symposium focused on the fact that there are still at least 2.5 billion people who don’t have affordable and convenient access to financial services despite modern technology. Big-name speakers discussed ways to reach out to excluded groups in spite of the challenges and issues that hinder their progress. While this task isn’t easy, it’s clear that the symposium recognized the need to address the problem of financial exclusion in a modern and connected world where inclusion should be the default.
Delivered in part with the Boulder Institute of Microfinance, the symposium also aimed to empower the poor to give them the capacity to make sound financial decisions for themselves. Although the delivery of banking services to the poor is important, education is also a priority for people to learn how to use these services wisely. In effect, the symposium wasn’t only about giving impoverished groups some fish for a day, but also about teaching them how to fish for a lifetime.
The good news here is that the technology used to deliver scalable services to vulnerable people already exists. For example, mobile accesshas already proven to be instrumental in making banking services to populations in rural regions, as well as in areas without access to a traditional bank. Also very promising are results reported at the Symposium by Juntos Finanzas in helping the newly bank take advantage of the services being offered by the bank or the telco – Juntos implementations deliver 35% decrease in dormant accounts and 50% larger deposits. And these results were be achieve by using short customized messages via SMS.
As Ajay Banga, CEO of Mastercard said in his commencement address delivered at the NYU Stern School of Business in 2014,  The Mastercard Foundation is taking advantage of that opportunity by sponsoring events like this Symposium on Financial Inclusion. Mastercard is also investing in multiple financial inclusions initiatives around the world. Read more about Juntos Finanzas and Mastercard’s initiatives in my upcoming book, Financial Inclusion at the Bottom of the Pyramid.
Image Source: Mastercard Foundation Symposium on Financial Inclusion