Banking on Refugees
According to recent studies, around 2 billion people don’t use, or have access to, formal financial services and more than 50% of adults are unbanked. The lack of access to the financial system in a sustained way is often termed “financial inclusion” which means persons, or businesses, that are excluded from the regulated and formal financial system. Financial inclusion is key to reducing poverty and supporting economic growth and prosperity for all countries.
As we move towards a digital economy and digital finance, it will become critically important to ensure that policies and new FinTech are geared towards financial inclusion remediation.
At the Digital Finance Institute, we are enabling one project for financial inclusion, a project called “Banking on Refugees” that addresses financial inclusion exclusively for refugees. The project was started privately by our Executive Director in 2014, and the Digital Finance Institute is one of several organizations that has agreed to partner to enable the project.
No Programs Exist for Refugees and Financial Inclusion
There are 60 million displaced persons and refugees around the world and the number keeps increasing. However, there are no existing programs that target financial inclusion, per se, for refugees. The Digital Finance Institute enables the project by assisting to find ways to make connections for the development of FinTech innovation to bridge inclusion gaps in conflict torn zones.
The project is multi-faceted and involves preparing a White Paper on Financial Inclusion for Refugees, followed by a test pilot with digital payment solutions at a refugee camp with biometric identification for government agencies and NGOs that surpasses existing global anti-money laundering laws.
At the conclusion of the test pilot, the project will move towards implementing a program of global financial inclusion with payments solutions coupled with biometric identification capture targeted at the refugee population in the Middle East, Africa, the EU and Asia and will the first such program in the world. Christine Duhaime, Sam Maule and Janos Barberis are involved in this project.
To learn more about how the Digital Finance Institute is working to assist with enabling financial inclusion for refugees:
- See American Banker “Financial Inclusion Efforts Turn Towards Refugees“, May 29, 2015.
- Listen to Breaking Banks “FinTech Aid for Refugees“, March 5, 2015.
- Listen to Around the Coin “The Inspirational Story of the Digital Finance Institute with Christine Duhaime and Sam Maule“, April 29, 2015.