Bill Gates aims to fix global banking

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Vincenzo Pinto | AFP | Getty Images

At the hustle of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Microsoft founder Bill Gates delivered another upbeat message on the world with his annual newsletter.

The report, written by Gates and his wife Melinda, who are co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, once again argued that the world is a better place than it has even been before, predicting that the next 15 years will see major breakthroughs. Such advancements will mean the lives of people in poor countries will improve faster over this period than at any other time in history, it said.

"These breakthroughs will be driven by innovation in technology — ranging from new vaccines and hardier crops to much cheaper smartphones and tablets — and by innovations that help deliver those things to more people," the report, released Thursday morning to coincide with the Davos event, said.

"It's great that more people in rich countries will be able to watch movies on super hi-resolution screens. It's even better that more parents in poor countries will know their children aren't going to die."

The foundation detailed a range of new opportunities that it foresees in the developing world and urged readers to raise awareness, volunteer time, or donate. Education, nutritious food and the benefits of mobile banking were just some of the issues raised in the report.


The mobile banking revolution in countries such as Kenya has been well-documented, but the newsletter highlighted that growth and more opportunities are available that would give the poor more control over their assets and help them transform their lives.

"By 2030, 2 billion people who don't have a bank account today will be storing money and making payment with their phones. And by then, mobile money providers will be offering the full range of financial services, from interest-bearing savings accounts to credit to insurance," the report said.

Traditional banks cannot afford to serve the poor because of the cost of running the accounts would outweigh the income generated by them. But making small commissions on transactions means that mobile money providers can, the Gates' letter added. The foundation called on regulators in developing countries to update their financial regulations regarding mobile banking. It also called for more retail stores so users can change up their digital cash.

"Because there is strong demand for banking among the poor, and because the poor can in fact be a profitable customer base, entrepreneurs in developing countries are doing exciting work — some of which will 'trickle up' to developed countries over time," it said.