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Inclusivity: Banking as a right

Publish date: 22 May 2018

Inclusivity has created a banking and financial ecosystem based on blockchain and mobile money technologies, with the aim of providing an alternative to traditional banking.

Across the world, 1.1 billion people have no official identity while 2 billion are without access to financial services and more than 4 billion are affected by a lack of financial services. Inclusivity believes that private and public-sector intervention are essential to achieving the financial inclusion that can support United Nations Sustainable Development Goal to eradicate poverty. As a financial company, it aims to achieve financial inclusion by doing business with excluded people rather than giving them aid.

Founded by Antonio Sainz and Eduardo Remírez, Inclusivity is a complete and evolving banking and financial ecosystem based on blockchain, mobile money and other technologies. Its goal is to combine the versatility and implementation of a complete mobile money platform with the robustness of the best blockchain platform, alongside the security levels required for banking in Europe and a large network of banking agents located close to the customers.

The company has two key priorities: to provide everyone with an official identity by creating an identity registry in blockchain where users can register for free, and to enable ‘banking as a right’. Rather than seeing people and SMEs as aid recipients, it asserts their right to have the financial means to overcome poverty and, through their own efforts and Inclusivity’s technological tools, to generate a financial culture that guarantees their future.

Citing reputation as one of the most important assets after identity, Sainz and Remírez explain that the Inclusivity team is creating a ‘reputation system’ based on artificial intelligence (AI) which works with objective data from multiple sources to enable quality control for banking agents, while a voluntary registry for users will be used as a true financial history record and credit scoring system. This will allow users to access loans, investments, crowdfunding, venture capital, partners and humanitarian aid. It will also feature in Inclusivity’s marketplace.

Sainz and Remírez cite the Janalakshami Financial Services Survey, which states that while 70% of SMEs have a bank account, only 5% have access to term loans and only 1% to current loans from banks. “Banks have not reacted for years,” Inclusivity’s founders say. “They have no interest in the poor, or in the micro and SME. They are closing more offices and generating more ‘excluded’. They lack the R&D capacity to adapt services to new markets. Added to that, there is a rigid normative that does not favor radical change in the sector.”

In response, Inclusivity has chosen to be bold, positioning itself as the twenty-first century banking ecosystem that provides banking and financial services adapted to everyone’s needs. A combination of modern technologies and a dedicated R&D team are behind Inclusivity’s plan to “break down the barriers of financial oligopolies and offer all financial and banking services to the excluded.”

“Our technological DNA enables us to use more mature technologies, such as sending or receiving money via SMS with an old phone, along with a complete platform of ‘mobile money’ integrated in blockchain, up to a new conception of money, value and assets,” say the founders. “Our competitive advantage is that Inclusivity ‘descends to the ground’. Its technology has a human face and it uses the technologies that best adapt to the circumstances, means and cultures of each region of the world.”

To make sure users stay in control of their own futures, the company provides its services through its network of banking agents, which it calls the Meeting Point of Services. Agents will often be a woman or a merchant that has passed Inclusivity’s ‘Coaching of coaches’ course. They will be able to advise users and provide telecommunication, financial, insurance and banking services to their community using a mobile phone. These Meeting Points of Services make Inclusivity “the largest, cheapest, most technological and efficient banking and financial network in the world,” the founders say.

By integrating banking and mobile money services in blockchain, Inclusivity aims to cover all needs, from sending and receiving money with other users to receiving vouchers, subsidies or government payments. Users receive rewards in Inclusivity’s People Tokens cryptocurrency for using the platform.

The company’s OffChain system has been created for users who don’t have access to communication, enabling bank agents to operate in places without telephone coverage. However, the founders stress that all users have the right to access the most modern and sophisticated products.

One of those products is the Inclusive Financial Marketplace, where users can access new financial instruments and create self-regulated financial communities. In this shared economy, the founders say, uses will have absolute freedom as long as they respect the Inclusive Businesses philosophy and safeguard the rights of the most vulnerable.

Inclusive banking is a $387 billion-dollar industry, according to Accenture, with more than 4 billion potential new customers. Inclusivity is open to collaboration with a wide range of organizations including governments, international organizations, microfinance companies, insurance firms, telcos, financial services providers and start-ups. It also plans to invite investors and venture capitalists to invest in Inclusive Marketplace projects in the near future, providing a ‘Label of Inclusivity’ to display the credentials of relevant products and services.

“Like any bank or financial institution our business model is simple: small commissions from millions of transactions done by millions of users, but there is a difference with traditional banking,” say Sainz and Remírez. “Inclusivity will have a small and fractal organizational structure and fully automated processes. This way, it is possible to provide high quality financial services at low cost, with high profit margins and a greater social impact, creating loyal and future customers, advised by the best local banking agents who are trusted in the community.”