Financial services technology has dramatically improved pyaments for consumers. E-commerce connects buyers and sellers around the globe.
But it hasn't worked for everyone. Billions of people are either completely excluded from the benefits of global commerce or else forced to pay exorbitant fees and suffer long delays. Virtual currency can change that. Im confident that digital currency will deliver the transparent, real-time and attainable financial independence and portability that underserved communities around the world rightfully deserve.
Banks and other financial services can further bring about change by putting client welfare above short-term profits and by adopting the highest standard of financial stewardship that technology enables. And governments around the world can drive innovation in finance by embracing technologies like digital currency and the Bitcoin protocol, which lower costs for the poorest and most vulnerable of their citizens.
We need a financial system that moves money and enables payments with real-time transparency while upholding the highest level of security and privacy. This system should empower people to take control of their money and enable them to access funds in their home currencies and mother tongues.
People around the world are already moving to online banking, using mobile apps to pay expenses and manage finances and sharing financial information that resides in the cloud. Innovations like PayPal, M-Pesa and Venmo are driving secure and simple digital finance adoption in the private sector.
Technology wrests control away from inefficient institutions and returns it to people and businesses. Disruption is coming soon, and the industry should embrace the trend. In the meantime, I believe adoption of digital currency will continue to grow.
Users should be able to easily and responsibly track their finances, rather than be punished with overdraft fees and minimum balance requirements. Consumers should be protected from the value-destroying impact of undisclosed risk that we saw in droves during the economic downturn in 2008, when ill-informed investors in the U.S. and abroad were blindsided and fell into crippling debt. And regulators and law enforcement officials should be empowered to better identify and exclude bad actors.
People around the world are tired of paying banks for the privilege of holding and moving their hard-earned money. They're also angry about the destructive lack of transparency in global finance and unwilling to be excluded from it. They want to change the way money works, and they are using their smartphones and laptops to make that change happen.
According to statistics from the Gates Foundation, 2.5 billion adults around the world do not have an account at a financial institution. Only 41% of adults in developed countries have bank accounts. This means that over half of the adult population in the developed world lacks the viable financial records necessary to apply for housing, transportation and education in many areas. The U.S. has many of the same problems. In 2013, roughly 20% of households in the U.S. were underbanked, meaning that they hold bank accounts but are still in need of additional financial services, according to statistics from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Another 7.7% lacked access to any bank account at all. The cause is depressingly simple: banks dont see the working poor, immigrants and children as profit-makers. Its better business to turn them away.
By utilizing the advantages of digital money, the industry and regulators have a dual and complementary ability to better serve people and businesses with easy, accessible, instant, and low-cost financial services while receiving full visibility into funds.
Consumers and businesses are always willing to try new technology that improves their lives. Thats what digital money does. Thats why I believe a better, fairer, more inclusive and fully-banked world is within reach.
Halsey Minor is the founder & chief executive of Bitreserve.