Will the next M-Pesa be a Blockchain app?

Will the next M-Pesa be a Blockchain app? - M Weighs Blockchain app 1024x593"How does your solution touch the base of the pyramid?" Sherron Hadebe from the Ministry of Finance of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), an independent state in Southern Africa, asked Nomcebo.

“I'm talking about those communities where a cell phone is only charged once in a while, in a rural community where electrification is still very low,” he said. Given that 770 million people around the world still live without access to electricity, it was a difficult but touching question from the jury at this year's finals for the AFI Inclusive FinTech Showcase, hosted by the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI).

The question was addressed to Anca Bogdan Rusu of cLabs, the startup that launched the Celo blockchain, an open source platform that makes financial instruments accessible to anyone with a mobile phone, just like with Bitcoin Pro.

Making technology more accessible

Smartphone apps like Celo's are undoubtedly unlocking life-changing revenue opportunities for marginalized communities, with the AI ​​training microtask market expected to be worth $ 24 billion by 2023.

“This solution is not optimized for these conditions,” Anca said. “Our goal was to go from 'you need a laptop or a computer to be able to access this type of work' to 'you just need to access a low-end smartphone'.

These are very low requirements, but they still exist. So Ms. Hadebe was right to point out that Celo's solution would be beyond the reach of those at the bottom of the pyramid, that is, the poorest and largest segment of the world's population.

The enabling effects of technology are as good as their accessibility, and when the digital economy takes over, there are serious concerns for those who find themselves stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide. This discrepancy is the focus of attention for AFI members, who represent the central banks and regulators of more than 80 emerging and developing countries.

The goal of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion

M-Pesa is the treasure of this space. The Kenyan mobile money solution has lifted hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty and is used on every occasion as an example of how fintech can offer a better future. The purpose of the AFI showcase is to discover the next M-Pesas in the world.

This year, the project has attracted more than 60 signups, from pre-seed startups to finserv giants like Mastercard. Each of the finalists took advantage of technologies that required a power source of some kind, and most were smartphone-enabled.

Robin Newnham, AFI's Head of Policy Analysis, reiterated the fact that smartphones are less accessible than feature phones. "The roll-out of $ 15 smartphones is happening at a tremendous pace, to the point where the cost of the phone is unlikely to be a significant barrier in the near future," he said, adding that better solar power distribution in sub-Saharan Africa would help. with the cost and reliability of electricity in rural areas.