Girls are important to reaching international ‘monetary inclusion’

Women are vital to achieving global 'financial inclusion'

Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, during the discussion “Innovation Potential in Africa, in Berlin, Germany.

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Women are vital to making sure finance – and financial education – gets to other parts of society, said billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates.

Governments and corporations serious about giving all members of society access to financial services should focus their resources on women, the Microsoft co-founder said at the Singapore FinTech Festival on Tuesday.

“It’s absolutely critical,” notes Gates, noting that women are usually responsible for family support finances.

“The benefits of getting the money under their control mean that it is more likely to be used for nutrition and education and for things that lift this family out of poverty,” he said at this year’s virtual conference.

Global improvement in inclusivity

Financial inclusivity, which refers to giving more people access to financial services, remains a key challenge for communities around the world.

Only 35% of people in low-income countries have access to a bank account. According to the World Economic Forum, this is 58% to 73% in higher to lower middle income countries and 94% in high income countries. These values ​​are lower in women.

It is important to remember how far we are from universal financial inclusion.

Bill Gates

Founder, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The pandemic has only made this shortage apparent as governments struggled to provide financial aid to those most in need while in lockdown across the country.

“You know, it’s important to remember how far we are from universal financial inclusion,” said Gates.

Invest in digital solutions

Through his nonprofit, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates has worked with governments and central banks for several years to improve financial inclusion in developing countries.

In particular, this included the introduction of digital solutions, which Gates says can help such countries catch up with or possibly overtake advanced countries with existing legacy systems.

“We spend a lot of our time with central bankers making sure they see what the pioneers did,” said Gates.

There is almost an easy way they can connect their citizens.

Bill Gates

Founder, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

To that end, the foundation is funding digital identity solutions such as MOSIP in India, an openly accessible software that allows governments to create digital identities for their citizens to help distribute resources. According to Gates, the acceptance of such technologies has so far been high in countries from Nigeria and Ethiopia to Indonesia.

“We believe that most central banks will say in the next five years that they can do this because most of the building blocks are accessible and it is almost easy to connect their citizens,” he said.

Gates said his foundation aims to fund two-thirds of the world’s population within a decade.