TORONTO, Feb. 28, 2018 /CNW/ - A Change.org petition has been launched by Toronto's Bo Zou as a means of securing buy-in and, ultimately, funding to counter an issue that plays a significant role in global poverty: a lack of access to banking services.
"Financial inclusion is critical in order to reduce poverty," says Bo Zou, a specialist in customer experience strategy and design who has worked extensively in financial services. "This shouldn't be happening in the 21st century. But technology may pave the way to effecting change."
Lack of access to banking services puts the gap between the world's haves and have-nots in sharp distinction, Zou points out. Most adults (94 percent) in OECD high income countries have bank accounts, but only 54 percent in developing countries do, with the lowest proportion in the Middle East at 14 percent, according to World Bank data.
The outcome is a reduced capacity for saving to create a cushion to help finance an education, business or home.
"What should concern us all, though, is that the problem of the unbanked hits close to home," Zou says. "In Canada, some 13 percent of us have no access. In the U.S., the richest country in the world, 9 million people are excluded from the system."
Bo Zou believes the blockchain technology – the driver of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin – poses an ideal solution to the problem, especially when delivered through smartphones via the global mobile network that is gaining penetration even in developing countries. Blockchain allows direct, peer-to-peer, virtually unhackable transactions without the need for intermediaries like traditional banks.
The opportunity is unfolding, he says, for the creation of a new, blockchain-based digital banking infrastructure. But, it will take support from concerned citizens in the world community to make the development of the new ecosystem happen.
Bo Zou adds: "It will require a strategic vision and roadmap to chart the course, along with support from blockchain fintech startups to ensure the technology is intuitive and accessible. Large institutions that understand blockchain's power must be involved as well."
Through the Change.org petition, Zou hopes to enlist other visionaries to play a role in the digital transformation of not just the banking system as we know it, but world poverty, as well.
SOURCE Bo Zou
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