Who is missing from the conversation about the unbanked?

    The top financial corporations have often been missing from the conversation about the unbanked in emerging markets — and they must be involved to succeed in true financial inclusion goals.

    “There is no way to reach the 2.5 billion unbanked without banks,” Robert Meloche, director of corporate social responsibility for Visa, said at an event organized by Devex Impact at the U.K. Department for International Development’s headquarters in London. “Their potential for scale and sustainability is unrivaled.”

    A true multi-stakeholder partnership including big banks, mobile money operators, NGOs and often the government is necessary to increase the number of people in developing countries with access to finance, Meloche explained.

    Figuring out how to make these services affordable is another essential component, he added.

    “If we don’t get the cost structure right, we might as well not talk about it,” Meloche said. “I’m convinced there’s a way that the bank, the MNO [mobile network operator], as well as the merchant who maybe is accepting the payment as well as the processor can all have a shared value model all see a profit benefit but is also affordable.”

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    About the author

    • Adva Saldinger

      Adva Saldinger is an Associate Editor at Devex, where she covers the intersection of business and international development, as well as U.S. foreign aid policy. From partnerships to trade and social entrepreneurship to impact investing, Adva explores the role the private sector and private capital play in development. A journalist with more than 10 years of experience, she has worked at several newspapers in the U.S. and lived in both Ghana and South Africa.