Since Kenya’s M-Pesa invented mobile money in 2007, the cell phone has been opening financial access all over the world. Spurred by the World Bank’s financial inclusion initiative and Sustainable Development Goals, the financial system added 1.2 billion people between 2011 and 2017. Nearly 70% of adults now have a bank account. However, 1.7 billion still do not, because they lack reliable access and/or the needed identity authentication (especially for women). Meanwhile, those with basic accounts still struggle with limited product choices, predatory practices, and, often, unreliable payments infrastructure.

In response, emerging market central banks are reimagining regulatory design, leveraging technology to scale up their own capacity without proportionally adding headcount. These digital-first strategies for mobile-first markets can leapfrog the older models, blazing a trail to the digital age for regulators everywhere.

AIR works with the United Nations, other international bodies, central banks, and NGOs to help develop and share new methods. We also help foster safe, fast digital payment systems.

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Blog: Power of empowerment: Takeaways from Swanari TechSprint

AIR was a partner with India's Reserve Bank Innovation Hub on a tech competition and ideas forum exploring digital financial services solutions for women's economic advancement.

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Podcast: Force of Nature: Ribbit Capital’s Sigal Mandelker on How to Modernize Government Technology

Today’s show is different. Jo Ann’s guest, Sigal Mandelker, is the former U.S. Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, and she talks to us with exceptional reflection and, frankly, frustration, about why and how we need our government to work better. That’s not a novel theme, of course – the world is noisy with critiques of government. Sigal’s message is distinct, though, and desperately needs to be heard, because it’s about technology.

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Podcast: Castles and Sandboxes: The Gates Foundation’s Konstantin Peric

Jo Ann’s guest today is Kosta Peric, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Deputy Director of Financial Services for the Poor. In this episode, he talks to us about the art of how to do the uniquely difficult type of problem solving required to achieve full financial inclusion in the world’s emerging markets.

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Podcast: Taking Regulatory innovation to a new level: Rajesh Bansal, CEO of the Reserve Bank of India Innovation Hub

Jo Ann’s guest today is one of the world’s leading innovators in the effort to make the financial system more equitable in India. Rajesh Bansal is the CEO of the Reserve Bank of India’s Innovation Hub. In April, AIR worked with the RBIH and other partners on the Swanari TechSprint, named for the Hindi word meaning “self-reliant lady.” On this episode, Rajesh shares a perspective that is fascinating on so many dimensions.

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Swanari (स्व-नारी) TechSprint

The Reserve Bank of India Innovation Hub (RBIH) hosted this global TechSprint in partnership with AIR, CIIE.CO and MSC aimed at advancing digital financial inclusion for women in India.

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Women’s Empowerment TechSprint with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

AIR is partnering with the FCA to develop an emerging markets TechSprint focused on Women’s Economic Empowerment, building on a prior one held in March 2021.

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