The Surprising Way Visa Helps End Poverty So You Don’t Have To
Have you ever lost your wallet?
What about misplaced your most used credit card? Have you ever ordered food at a little mom and pop shop, eyes glazed with excitement, mouth salivating for the first bite — only to realize they only take cash?
What a pain, right?
But has having credit ever even crossed your mind? Have you ever thought to yourself, Wow! I have so much financial access right now?!
And yet, that little piece of plastic, whether credit or debit, has allowed you to shop online, purchase travel ticket through the web, pay bills via a mobile account and probably accumulate some points from dine-in meals and gas.
That tiny rectangle might even one day be the key to your ability to buy a home, purchase a car, lease an apartment or start a business. Like them or not, financial institutions have some real, tangible perks.
And though some of you might be thinking, “I never spend beyond my means,” the fact is, there are 3.1 BILLION credit cards in the US, that accumulate over $815 billion of debt. So, to put it into perspective for you — of the over 326 million people living in the United States of America, each of you owns about 3 credit cards and have about $2,500 of credit card debt.
So why does all this even matter?
It matters because universal financial access doesn’t exist. Over 2.5 billion adults in the world don’t have basic financial institution access.
This means somewhere in Bangladesh, a father travels for 3 days to pay his child’s tuition. It means that somewhere in Kenya, a college kid studies in the dark because he lacks electricity. It means 70% of people in countries like Egypt, India, Mexico, Philippines, South Africa, Turkey, Morocco, Brazil, Pakistan, Vietnam, Colombia and others, are living unbanked.
It means that for the simple fact that you were born into a certain family, in a certain geography, by no choice of your own — you dodged one more bullet.
So in 2015, the UN created goals, 17 to be exact. Goals created to build a world where “no one gets left behind.” Goals to guide humanity and corporations to sustainable development for all. Goals to empower businesses to do their part, to fulfill their ethical responsibility to serve the human race.
Corporations aren’t people, it’s true. But luckily, we’re still living in a time where businesses are run by human souls. Emotional beings. People who sometimes order pizza, and flinch when they get a paper cut.
And so these business join efforts. Businesses like Visa who committed to helping Goal #1 No Poverty to achieve universal financial access by 2020.
But financial inclusion doesn’t mean just giving someone a credit card.
Financial Inclusion is the idea that people can get affordable, secure, and convenient access to financial services. Meaning people with lower incomes aren’t left out because of insane interest rates they can’t afford, or financial literacy they don’t have.
Financial inclusion means that when a woman like Adele Dejak has a knack for modern, sophisticated, gorgeous fashion, she also has access to financial institutions to start a business an employ people in her community in Kenya — and bless us with her knockout collection.
It means that women like Dorcas Muthoni can start a consulting business at the age of 24 and transform the African Union through technology. It gives women the opportunity to make a lasting impact, the way Openworld LTD did for other small businesses and young girls who aspire to become computer engineers.
If that’s not enough:
Financial access around the globe means more money in America too
Companies like Apple generate over $7 billion in revenue from Apple Pay alone, and guess what? Only 1 in 4 transactions take place within the USA.
This means that the more people who can access online, mobile banking, the more they can make payments via the web, the more opportunity for money to flow into our globally intertwined economy.
So, what does that all mean? It means that more financial institutions must pick up the slack. It means that our credit establishments must partner with NGOs, companies in the private sector, and governments to insure that underserved and underbanked individuals get viable solutions.
Imagine, the simple things we take for granted are part of the solution to ending poverty. Maybe it’s a far stretch… but until we’ve hit the mark, we’ll never know.