We are in the process of reinventing how these people send and receive money in remote locations, how they pay bills and loans. How they save and insure against emergencies, and for increasing numbers, how they enjoy greater freedom and control over their financial future.

The dilemma is how to make all these new ways of banking—by mobile phone, via card readers and enhanced ATMs, and with third-party agents who act on behalf of branch staff—either profitable or at least sustainable. Every other industry has had to revise how they make money in new markets with new technology. Banking may finally be forced to as well. There may be no traditional “business case” for financial inclusion. The scope and needs of these customers are too different. This reality may ultimately persuade banks to share risks, and rewards, with MNOs and—watch this space—the post office, global consumer brands, and technology service providers. Each brings new value and possible solutions that banks alone cannot solve.

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