Practical Solutions to
Financial and Cultural Isolation

Ethical Payments Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to seeking practical ways to equalise opportunities and build self-sufficiency for regions with poor access to financial inclusion and freedom from exploitation.

Practicality is an important consideration in this aim. Idealism has little chance of overcoming historic barriers unless it's backed by realism and the understanding that we can't cure the world overnight.

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Picking tea in India

Self-sufficiency is the only permanent solution

Foreign aid to emerging countries is, at best, a temporary fix for an ongoing problem. That’s not to decry the admirable efforts of aid organisations, but charitable support has to go hand in hand with a strategy towards self-sufficiency. Sadly, global financial restrictions make such strategies so difficult as to be near-impossible.

Our work focuses on re-opening financially isolated regions so that they can trade internationally. It’s a complex task, given that many of the affected countries are also cursed by corruption, illegal trades and terrorism.

Practical solutions do exist, and new technologies are opening up an increasing armoury of tools to allow the established world to trade safely with hard-working people who need little more than the opportunity to contribute to global prosperity and inclusion. It's the Foundation's task to provide an impartial source of knowledge and guidance to help companies, banks, regulators and governments to nurture equality and opportunity across the globe.

Somalian Market

EPF Calls for Challengers to Restore MSB Banking

Shutting out remittances is destroying lives

Money service bureaux continue to close as banks move to clean their portfolios by simply deleting business that doesn't meet their tightening risk appetites. This may play well for shareholders and risk officers, but does the cost justify the benefit? It can't be denied that some MSBs have been used as money-laundering vehicles, as evidenced by the joint crackdown by HMRC, the FCA and Metropolitan Police in September 2019. But the resulting bank withdrawal from the sector, which may have closed down 50% of the UK's bureaux, has much in common with babies and bathwater.

An MSB closure typically puts five to ten people out of work. That's not a number that will blip any unemployment graphs, but multiply it by the number of MSB closures and we start to see a far bigger effect. Since 2015, Barclays has closed 65% of its MSB accounts.

The

 
Financial Inclusion Forum

Learning From the Forum

Digital Financial Services for Refugees

The Financial Inclusion Forum hosted a highly stimulating event last night, at which we learned more about what digital financial services are doing for refugees and other forcibly displaced populations. As is so often the case, the unintended consequences revealed that we don't always know what we think we know. Who could predict that terrorists might kill people simply because of a certain financial assistance app on their phone? Yet that app, provided for the most benign and philanthropic of reasons, was taken as evidence of the victim's status as a lackey of the hated west.

My co-director, Tory Batten, and I attended to make new contacts and understand better the role of safe, affordable payment channels in disadvantaged groups. both of those boxes receive multiple ticks.

It's greatly encouraging to learn that the digital expansion

 
Old mobile phone in Addis Ababa

Mobilising the Digital Payments Revolution

A Call to Fintechs to share their solutions

Today, 5.1 billion people own a mobile phone. Compared to a world population of a little over 7 billion, that suggests that roughly two-thirds of people are part of the app revolution. GSMA, the organisation that represents the interests of mobile operators, predicts that that figure will grow to 71% by 2025. Of those, nearly 80% will be smartphones. Time for smiles and handshakes all round, as we congratulate ourselves on the financial inclusivity of a new world of digital transactions. But there are victims hidden in these encouraging numbers. And, given that we're talking about billions of people, even a small percentage of exclusion can equate to exclusion and suffering on a massive scale.

Today's article pivots on an invitation to companies, particularly fintechs, to tell us of their initiatives to bring opportunity to everyone, not just the fortunate

 

IMF Approves US$3 billion loan for Ethiopia

Government plans show whole-solution thinking

The IMF's approval of a US$3 billion programme of reform for Ethiopia is yet another indicator of Africa's economic surge. The programme appears to be encouragingly holistic, with elements that permeate through the country's society. Particularly interesting is the emphasis on the private sector.

Governments the world over tend to become complex and over-administrated. When a country's economy becomes too focused on its public sector, wealth-creation falls, and the economy suffers. Ethiopia's shift of emphasis suggests an understanding of the need to import cash. This aligns with their allocation of funds and resources to deal with foreign exchange shortages.

Of course, a $3 billion loan, handled incorrectly, could simply add to Africa's debt mountain. But if Ethiopia carries through its declared plan, then the outcome

 
 
 
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