Banking for the poor could be Bill Gates’ greatest achievement

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Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates has given away more than $28 billion, comfortably making him the world’s greatest living philanthropist. By the time he has donated the rest, he may well have the elimination of polio and drastic reduction of child malaria on his epitaph.

Yet, providing access to financial services to the one-third of the world’s people who are currently unbanked might just be on there, too.

Banks are hardly the most popular institutions in Western developed countries right now among both individuals and small businesses. Insurers don’t rank much higher.

However, the 2.5 billion people who do not have access to bank accounts, loans and insurance might think differently – especially if the access that they do gain is much more benign than the way that banks and insurers in the West have traditionally treated their customers.

That is probably not how the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would describe it, but it is nonetheless ploughing $65 million into the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), an organization it helped set up to tackle the problem.

The full version of this article can be accessed at Forbes.

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