Despite progress in expanding access, 1.7 billion people still lack a connection to mainstream banking, often due to identity authentication issues — particularly for women. Those with basic accounts in developing nations still face limited product choice, scams, predatory lenders and unreliable payment systems.

Some central banks are leveraging technology to scale up capacity. Digital-first strategies are especially promising in mobile-first consumer financial markets, where government agencies can leapfrog developed nations to build a new generation of regulation that is more effective and efficient than analog systems. AIR works with nations, international bodies and NGOs on TechSprints and other projects to expand financial inclusion and foster digital payments structures.

BLOG • Power of empowerment: Swanari TechSprint Takeaways

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.

PODCAST • The Reserve Bank of India’s Path to Financial Inclusion

Rajesh Bansal is head of India’s Reserve Bank Innovation Hub, which along with AIR hosted the Swanari TechSprint looking at ways to expand financial services access for women. He speaks with Jo Ann about the country’s pioneering innovation strategy.

Michael Wiegand with Jo Ann Barefoot on the Barefoot Innovation Podcast

PODCAST • How to Include Everyone: The Gates Foundation’s Michael Wiegand

Michael talks about the global evolution of financial inclusion and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s ongoing efforts. Learn about digital financial inclusion, consumer protection, digital public infrastructure, and barriers to fair finance.

PODCAST • The Mojaloop Foundation’s Drive for an Interoperable Financial System

The foundation’s leaders, Paula Hunter and Lesley-Ann Vaughan, speak with Jo Ann about their work to expand financial inclusion through open-source software with interoperability as a central component. The word mojaloop means “one” in Swahili.

PODCAST • Kenya Is Proof of How Emerging Markets Can Lead on Regulatory Innovation

Jo Ann speaks with Sheila M’Mbijjewe, deputy governor of the Kenya Central Bank, about the African country’s leadership in mobile-payments development and adoption. Half of the nation’s GDP has moved onto the M-Pesa rails.

TECHSPRINT • AIR, U.K. Regulator Team Up on Women’s Empowerment TechSprint

The Alliance for Innovative Regulation and Financial Conduct Authority partnered on a transatlantic competition and conference examining ways to address the disproportionate impact of the COVID pandemic on women.

PODCAST • The Bold Vision of Singapore Central Bank Chief Ravi Menon

Ravi Menon, the managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, has charted a bold course on regulatory innovation, inventing new models that are being emulated throughout the world.

PODCAST • Demystifying DeFi and Web3 with Tomicah Tillemann

Tillemann, Chief Policy Officer of Haun Ventures, shares his views about the crypto winter and how the confluence of blockchain, open source and digital tokens could solve stubborn problems.

PODCAST • Barefoot Innovation Podcast Hits 200-Episode Milestone

It has been quite a ride since our first episode in 2015. Over more than eight years, this show helped mark AIR’s founding, unpacked what the pandemic and other events meant for financial regulation, and hosted so many enlightening discussions about disruptive technology.

PODCAST • Castles and Sandboxes: The Gates Foundation’s Kosta Peric

Jo Ann’s guest is Kosta Peric, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Deputy Director of Financial Services for the Poor. In this episode, he discusses the uniquely difficult problem-solving needed to achieve full financial inclusion.

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