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Financial Inclusion at the Bottom of the Pyramid Hardcover – July 15, 2015
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"The book reads like a fast-paced novel. I could not put it down and I can't wait for the sequel to find out what happens next. It should be compulsory reading for every central bank, ministry of finance, and government official who is serious about empowering people. Every senior executive of any bank worth its salt should study this. There is something in it for everybody."
--Brian Richardson, CEO of Wizzit
"Not only was it an easy and enjoyable read--it was authoritative and credible, written by those who are obvious experts in their field. The personal and real-life experiences supporting the concepts developed around innovation makes the content accessible to anyone--even to those who are new to the concept of financial inclusion. This is a book full of real knowledge and will help readers appreciate what authentic financial inclusion is. "
--Jojo Malolos, former CEO of Smart Hub (Smart MC joint venture)
"The end of poverty is coming our way,, and this brilliant book explains how and why."
- Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University
About the Author
An expert in financial service innovation, CAROL REALINI is a serial entrepreneur and globally-recognized technology pioneer. Attending the World Economic Forum, she led global discussions on alternative banking. Recognized as a top woman in Silicon Valley, she sits on boards and advises financial services and mobile companies. For more information, please visit carolrealini.com
KARL MEHTA is a serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist in Silicon Valley. He was founder & CEO of PlaySpan (acquired by Visa), a global alternative payment network. Karl served as the White House Presidential Innovation. He is an active investor in Edtech and Fintech and founder-CEO of EdCast Inc. For more information, please visit openfininc.org, edcast.com/FinIncBOP, and edcast.com/karlmehta
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This book takes a look at this large part of the world’s population and considers how they handle their money. Here technology is making inroads. If you have access to a mobile phone, you can do a lot more compared to people just one generation ago, often for a significantly lower price. When you don’t have a lot of money, even sending a little to someone else can cost a lot, representing a much larger share of a little bit, thanks to banks and middlemen all wanting their cut. When you don’t have a lot, you don’t necessarily have a lot of choice nor can shop around. It can really be “take it or leave it” territory.
Credit must be given to the authors for producing a book that does not compromise its intellectual quality, whilst remaining easy-to-read and engaging. It is suitable for a general, curious reader as well as the more involved professional or academic who may have different needs and expectations. The authors have resisted the temptation to overly “point fingers” or campaign for change; the stories can talk for themselves and the solutions being deployed do not need any hype.
The problem is not isolated to a few people in a few countries. As the authors note: “In the world today, over two and a half billion people who earn wages and support families do not use a formally recognized financial services provider. They are cut off from the institutional services that the wealthy take for granted. For them, the world of old finance is like an Aztec pyramid: broad at the base, with a set of steep stairs ascending to the sacred temple at the top. Not everyone can access the riches and opportunities that lie at the top of the pyramid. The stairs are too steep and the price of admission is too high. These billions of people live at the bottom of the pyramid. They do the best they can to find shelter, support their families, run their small businesses, and conduct their financial affairs without the benefit of safe and reliable institutional financial services. They are the financial nomads. They live from day to day, and they climb the steep stairs of the pyramid to use institutional financial services only when they are able or when they have no other choice. This can create a downward spiral due to steep prices, penalty fees, and escalating costs of short-term credit. Because of bad experiences or foreknowledge of the high costs, they avoid the pyramid, and use only cash or patronize the world of alternative financial services—the world of loan sharks and payday loans.”
It hardly feels great does it? In the first world we may not give a second thought to pressing “buy” on Amazon.com for a book we want (such as this?), until the credit card bill comes in. Need a coffee? Wave your iPhone at a card reader in Starbucks and job done. On the other side of the world, not only would the scale of these transactions exceed a person’s daily if not weekly income, but also the flexibility to even consider doing this doesn’t exist. Problems also exist in first-world countries, with people paying disproportionately more, often living week-to-week on revolving credit and paying through the nose for the privilege. It is just they are at the bottom of another pyramid; they are in the same lowly position, looking upwards.
In the book the authors look at how the pyramid and its problems can be reformed and redesigned. Technology will help democratise this process. Of course, those with a lot to lose will hardly stand idly by and watch as their “cash cows” are slaughtered. Change is coming; some things will change with a massive wave, some things will take a bit longer, but change they will. Reading this excellent book will make you better informed and maybe even make you want to inspire and embrace the inevitable.
You should be depressed reading the book, yet it offers hope and shows positive change. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care, but it gives hope.
Realini introduces what other countries are doing to help the exchange of money electronically without requiring extra equipment or resources beyond what is easily accessible- and what many folks already have, e.g. a cell phone. Both the economic stimulus and personal savings through electronic transactions versus cash exchange are enormous. I had no idea that other countries allow one person to send money to another person at the cost of a few cents for the sender and recipient while our system charges exorbitant fees.
Read this book for an eye-opening perspective on what life without a checking account would be like- or even not knowing how old you. Trust me that your chin will drop a few times.
Something has got to give with our system.
I received a few copies of this book in exchange for an honest review.