The World Bank reconvened again this month to discuss its Universal Financial Access campaign. The goal is to open financial transactions to the billions of people around the world who don't have any access to banking. Since launching this campaign, fifty countries have pledged to help the World Bank accomplish its goal set by the year 2020.
Access to banking will go beyond the typical financial institution and transactions we've grown accustomed to so far. The ambitious goal to extend transactions will include new technology that allows people to use their phones, computers, and other electronic apparatuses to send and save money. This is especially important in developing countries where remote areas and wars make it hard for the average person to have access to financial institutions.
The pledge and commitment is there to end poverty and expose the poor to new opportunities. While saving and receiving money with ease will elevate the living standards of billions worldwide, the campaign mentions nothing about educating the target audience on money matters. We need to go beyond teaching these people how to budget and save, and include developing the attitude and discipline to continue elevating standards of living through banking.
Using technology or any type of transaction to manage money requires a change in culture. If Americans can demonstrate anything about personal finance, it's that it takes much more than access to a particular service to build real wealth and manage money.
While the main objective of moving more people into banking stems from the need to have them receive any government funding they're entitled to, trying to force anyone to save will never happen unless more jobs are created. Before aiming to have more people rely on banking transactions, there must be a plan to educate and employ the billions the campaign is trying to reach and help. Using banking services doesn't come easy for those living in advanced societies, and it will be less easier for those from poorer ones trying to understand the basic mechanics of a transaction.