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“Players in the financial-services industry are traveling to the world’s most cash-rich locales, scouring rural villages in an effort to tap an untouched market where some 2.4 billion people have yet to open a bank account.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that there’s a tectonic shift in technology here, a leapfrog opportunity,” said Gordon Cooper, Visa’s head of emerging market solutions. “We are quite certain that the real opportunity lies in non-traditional growth.”
Sobhani, who focuses on U.N.’s growing inclusive markets initiative, said providing the poor access to financial services through mobile platforms is a “critical enabler.”
That ranges from governments and relief programs providing and tracking direct aid to earthquake victims in Haiti to the ability of hooking rural farmers up to the grid in what led to the creation of Sub-Saharan Africa’s first commodities exchange in Ethiopia.”