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.

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

Maputo, Mozambique

African economies boom

A cause for celebration or concern?

According to the IMF, Africa is set for meteoric growth in 2020. That's excellent news, but high speeds create big accidents. At the risk of being accused of looking for the tunnel instead of the light, I'd like to propose a few balancing views. My initial concern is that we see this good news as a signal that Africa's topped the hump, and the view from here is all roses. While I sincerely hope it is, the whole construct is fragile. It's vital that all parties approach the economic upturn with open eyes.

The Compliance Hurdle Mozambique is forecasting 6% growth this year - more than Africa's two largest economies, Nigeria and South Africa added together. With a vibrant market on offer, it's likely that businesses will be queueing up to take part in the boom. Yet this is the country that presents the world's greatest money laundering

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