In developed and developing markets alike, societies are becoming increasingly digital, and technological innovations are emerging at an ever increasing rate. The mobile money industry is now fast evolving against a backdrop of increased internet access and smartphone adoption, the arrival of new tech players, and consumers’ changing expectations around digital access to financial and other services. Such is the speed of its evolution, the mobile money industry of today may no longer be recognisable five years from now.
At GSMA Mobile for Development, we see this as a tremendous opportunity. With its unparalleled global reach, the mobile industry is uniquely positioned to drive the technologies that will shape the future of financial and digital inclusion. For these digital innovations to have real and long-standing impact, it is incumbent on our industry to ensure scalability, cross-sector collaboration, and industry standardisation. And as digital products reach the hands of more and more low-income users, it will prove crucial to build products that are user-centric, providing everyday relevance and solving real customer needs.
This is why we are launching the GSMA Inclusive Tech Lab. To support our industry with inclusive innovations, we are committing ourselves to a bold new endeavour shaped by experimentation and a willingness to take risks. With our team of dedicated ‘technopreneurs’, the Lab will take a hands-on approach to research, test and develop the inclusive technologies of the future. The Lab will strategise, build, and pilot solutions, and disseminate the insights and assets to the wider industry. It will benefit from guidance received from leading industry figures making up its global Advisory Group, who will help to assess, prioritise and contribute towards potential project ideas received by the Lab.
We are thinking big. We want to make a real impact. Think about breaking down barriers to financial services for unregistered people by developing digital identities. Think about enabling wide availability of loans, insurance and education through seamless integrations between service providers and mobile money operators. Think about the responsible application of artificial intelligence to tailor services for women and increase their economic participation. These challenges, and many more, will be driving our thinking as we help develop the transformative digital innovations of tomorrow.
Above all else, this Lab represents the power of collaboration: we welcome your thoughts on which technologies will prove the most impactful for digital and financial inclusion in years to come. And if you are interested in collaborating with the Lab, we would love to hear from you below.
The GSMA Inclusive Tech Lab is funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who will sit on the Advisory Group alongside industry representatives including GoPay, IDEMIA, KaiOS, Telenor, the University of Washington, VEON and Vodafone.