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Global Problems, Simple Solutions…Banking the Unbanked

According to the World Bank, in April of 2012 there are 2.5 billion people around the world who not only have no access to financial services but who also must rely on risky means to manage their money. However, recently there has been some technological advancement which is beginning to have a dramatic impact towards “banking the unbanked.”

These days it seems the sun never sets on the transformative power of technology. From Mexico to the plains of Africa to the furthest reaches of India, people spanning a multiplicity of languages and cultures are now seeing their businesses and lives enriched with new possibilities. Let’s take a quick tour d’horizon and get acquainted with a few dreams set in motion thanks to a little innovative simplicity.


In a remote part of India, a vegetable vendor named Shantilal was,until recently,not even sure where his money went after he made a deposit. Often weeks of earnings from all of his hard work would simply vanish. Additionally, his area lacked the technology for him to be able to do any banking via a mobile device. Today he can bank anywhere thanks to a new mobile platform implemented by the Adarsh Credit Society and powered by SAP. Shantilal now has real-time notifications for all his deposits and does all of his banking anytime he needs to.

In India it is widely believed that we learn about people at an inverse proportion to the speed in which we travel so you learn far more by walking than by driving. Likewise, in unprecedented fashion, Adarsh representatives go door to door to meet with their customers. Communication like this affords trust and lasting bonds help forge new friendships. Mobile banking technology is now brought direct to the door of the formerly underserved and good things always come from that kind of inclusion. You can meet Shantilal and hear his story in this brief video.


Across the world, Elizabeth Diaz Flores was working long hours in a warehouse, starting her day before dawn. After that, Elizabeth ran her own business selling handmade items long into the night from a cart on a bustling intersection. Sensing something special at work, a friend introduced Elizabeth to a microloan program offered by Mexico’s Compartamos Banco, a finance organization that provides microloans to small groups of primarily female-owned businesses.

Elizabeth used her loan to open a grocery and Internet Café. Not only did she excel but was soon also awarded the 2013 Compartamos Microenterprise Award, that is presented to a customer who has, “shown excellence in their careers, vision and community interest by way of their efforts and persistence, thus setting an example of other entrepreneurs to follow.”

Compartamos Banco is committed to creating many more stories like Elizabeth’s and have partnered with SAP specifically to achieve that goal. Learn more about their vision in this video.

South Africa

Heading over to South Africa, a multitude of additional sources of inspirational stories can be found thanks to the innovative outreach of Standard Bank. One example is Boitumelo Xakaza a sandal salesman who logs up to 20 miles a day on his bicycle. Until recently he was among millions of South Africans without a bank account, requiring him to take a three hour bus ride to a bill paying center, that routinely cost him over 30% of his weekly income.

Today he saves that time and punitive expense by visiting one of Standard Bank’s many new “AccessPoints.” With his personalized “AccessAccount,” Boitumelo can now perform mobile transactions that include person-to-person transfers, electricity purchases and money transfers instantly and at any time.

Providing the ability for millions of people to go from “unbanked to banked” across the African continent is part of Standard Bank’s inclusive banking initiative. They are now opening thousands of new accounts per day via SMS technology running on SAP Mobile Platform. For Boitumelo the ability to do banking on his flip phone has changed his life: “It came to my family like a miracle out of the sky.” See more about the solution here.

For its part, SAP continues to explore broader notions of what innovation can be and remains the driving technological force behind financial inclusion across the globe.

Extending banking to the under-served around the world makes compelling sense on many levels. With technology designed with the greater good in mind, free markets flourish and the gap between rich and poor narrows.

And look what can happen when technology and social commitment make what was complicated now seem simple. It lights up a million smiles…

For more on Elizabeth’s story go here.

For more about Shantilal click here.

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