FinTech For Good – The Booster Labs perspective

By Tomas Vysny, Co Founder at The Booster Labs

Let’s be honest — financial services is very unlikely to be the first thing that comes to mind in association with egalitarian concepts of social inclusion and change for the better for the global population.

However, times are rapidly changing; even in the conservative world of financial services. The new kid on the block — fintech- with its enablers such transformative distribution channels, innovative business models and easily deployable technology should naturally rise up to the challenge of revolutionizing financial services not just in the UK and US, but for all.

The Opportunity

Financial Inclusion is one of the key topics around which the discussion will revolve at an upcoming Innovate Finance Global Summit 2016. And rightfully so, as the potential size of the prize is enormous:

According to an often-quoted research some 2 billion people (38% of adults in the world) don’t have access to basic financial services.

Surprisingly enough; significant portion of population remains unbanked or underbanked even in the developed markets of European Union and United States.

The problem is prevalent on the business side too — International Finance Corporation report states that micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) in developing countries “face an estimated financing gap of $2.1 to $2.6 trillion, which is equivalent to 30 to 36 percent of current outstanding MSME credit. There are 200 to 245 million formal and informal enterprises that do not have a loan or overdraft, but are in need of one”.

…And The Impact

It is fascinating to see the positive impact of facilitating access to financial services on socio-economic well-being and improvements in business performance (the below quoted from the good people at World Bank):

For example, households in Niger with a basic saving account or mobile money have been shown to eat a more diverse diet and are better able to plan for their food expenses.

When banks in Mexico expanded access by opening terminals in retail stores, the average income in those population centers rose by 7 percent, while employment grew by 1.4 percent.

Planning for a rainy day is also more manageable when people have access to finance. For example, Kenyan households that use the M-Pesa mobile-money service can weather shocks better than those not using that technology. Non M-Pesa users’ household consumption fell by 7–10% during hardship, while M-PESA users’ consumption didn’t.

Studies [on micro loan availability to businesses] found positive effects on a variety of indicators, including the income of existing businesses (India, the Philippines, and Mongolia), business size (Mexico), and the scale of agricultural activities and the diversification of livestock (Morocco). In addition, access to microcredit increased the ability of microentrepreneurs to cope with risk (the Philippines and Mexico).

“Migrants from Syria charge their phones outside a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos last month. Recognizing that smartphones have become essential lifelines for many asylum-seekers, the UN has handed out 33,000 SIM cards and tens of thousands of solar-powered chargers at refugee camps” (CBC News/Achilleas Zavallis/AFP/Getty)

One Example for All

The momentum is clearly picking up — in one particular example, UNICEF has just recently announced a launch of UNICEF Innovation Fund, which plans to invest in technology startups developing solutions with the potential to improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, blockchain — technology which could facilitate cheaper and transparent micro payments or act as an platform to store and validate identity details for children in troubled areas of the world — is one of the focus areas of the fund.

Join us at FinTech Jam for Good

So what’s next?

I am very excited that we at Booster Labs are joining forces with amazing array of partners including Claro PartnersInnovate Finance and UNICEF UK in organising and facilitating a great event designed to tackle some of the challenges outlined above.

FinTech Jam for Good will be a two-day event that will take place on 9th-10th of April in London at Startupbootcamp FinTech. It aims to find solutions that make the financial services ecosystem better, fairer and less extractive using the latest FinTech technologies and ideas that shape our digital world.

Some 60 designers, developers and strategists will get together to solve real issues people face all over the world such as access to credit or making everyday purchase payments.

Among other prizes, the winners will earn a spot to present on the main plenary stage in front of a senior audience of over 1000 investors, entrepreneurs and bankers at Innovate Finance Global Summit 2016.

So if you are passionate about financial services or making a positive impact in the world; whether you are a business person, designer or a techie  join us to kick-start new fintech business and solutions for good.

See you in London!