I've been taking my bank account for granted.
I have a quiz for you. And you're going to learn why cash ain't all it's cracked up to be.
Provided are some VERY SUBTLE clues to help you out.
Question 1: How much of the world does not have access to an account to store or save their money?
How are you doing so far? Got it right? Keep going! Did you get it wrong? Keep going!
Question 2: In Myanmar, what proportion of farmers live with debts to shady lenders?
Answer: Two-thirds. Why so many? Because when you can't get a loan from a reputable institution, you turn to anyone who will lend you money.
You're doing so great!
Question 3: How many people in India have a bank account?
Answer: 1 out of 3.
More than halfway home!
Question 4: How many people in Africa have a bank account?
Answer: 1 in 4.
How are these clues working for you? Helpful?
Question 5: How many mobile connections are there in the developing world?
Answer: 5.7 billion. Whoa.
OK, what does this have to do with cash? And why were you forced to take this quiz?
Because it's important to understand that people without a reliable way to store and transfer money (like a bank account) get taken advantage of. They are forced to borrow from insecure lenders, they lack the ability to securely pay for things, and they are held back from meaningful participation in their economy. In other words, they are financially excluded.
The answer to that problem is financial inclusion.
Financial inclusion means giving people the tools — whether that's payment systems via cellphone or pre-paid debit cards — to be part of an economy. It means they don't have to rely solely on cash. And that goes for both the developing world and here in America.