Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Gates Foundation) has in its 2015 Gates Annual Letter explained their “BIG BET” of improving lives of people living in poor countries within the next 15 years. This change in 15 years will be faster than any other point in history along the same time span. In this letter, they call for people to join their cause to accelerate the progress and create a big impact across the world.
As a part of this initiative, they aim to create unprecedented opportunities to people in poor countries to access education, eat nutritious food and reap benefits from mobile banking. The four breakthroughs Gates Foundation sees coming in the next 15 years are:
- Health: Child Deaths will Go Down, And More Diseases Will Be Wiped Out
- Farming: Africa Will Be Able to Feed Itself
- Banking: Mobile Banking Will Help the Poor Transform Their Lives
- Education: Better Software Will Revolutionize Learning
These are four very important sectors, Gates Foundation is targeting. It is necessary to ensure that the issues plaguing necessities are addressed and being pioneers in the field, they are doing it right. As they call for Global Citizens to be part of their crusade, we all can contribute to it in whatever way we can. Being part of the Bitcoin community, my opinion is that we are more than capable to help address the third entry in the list regarding banking.
People in poor countries either don’t have enough assets or don’t have access to banks that will help them utilize their assets effectively. Most of them save money in very inefficient ways and even when they have to transfer money to someone, they make a trip to that person’s home to deliver cash by hand. Traditional banks too can’t afford to serve the poor due to the costs, leaving over 2.5 billion adults unbanked.
These places have mobile phone penetration, and many of them are already storing money digitally in their phone wallets using services like M-Pesa. Bitcoin services like BitPesa are also being extensively used in a few of these poor countries for money transfer. Stellar is also aligning itself to the BIG BET and working on addressing the banking needs of poor nations with their Stellar protocol that helps people conduct transactions digitally with any fiat or cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin and digital currency startups are on the right path. Maybe it is time to join forces, as Global Citizens and work towards a common goal of banking the unbanked and help transform the lives of the poor alongside the Gates Foundation.