Playing the Long Game — ep. 3— Bill Gates, Distributed Ledgers & Financial Services for the Poor Program
What does it mean to play the long game? Especially in the business world, companies have visions, reasons behind why they do what they do. They have a long term plan, filled with long term goals, and are constantly doing things now that will eventually set them up for future success. A plan without proper execution is useless, and actions without a plan are like shooting in the dark.
Today we continue the series focusing on the blockchain revolution, how it can influence the business environment and the early adopters of disruptive technologies. It’s a series about the people behind the decisions. About the people playing the long game. About practitioners.
Distributed Ledgers & Financial Services for the Poor Program — Blockchain Technology in the Real World
Could blockchain, the technology underlying the digital currency Bitcoin, give them access to financial services? The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation thinks so, and it is modifying blockchain, which is essentially a secure, reliable digital record-keeping system, to bring the poor into the formal economy.
Even from inception, blockchain technology has served as a platform for the creation of an alternative for the financial institutions which were failing during the 2008 economic crisis. Thus Bitcoin was created, starting the cryptocurrency “gold-rush-craze”. But at the root of evolving the fintech industry, blockchain was used for good. It’s time to repeat that pattern.
No matter how much our society keeps evolving and how many individuals reach a satisfactory level of welfare, there are still millions of people who remain trapped inside a poverty cycle or are struggling daily in order to make ends meet. As much as today’s society is developing, financial exclusion can be one of the main factors of generating poverty in the near future. Access to technology and its benefits needs to reach all people in order to be equal.
Blockchain technology has the ability to scale networks that can make digital currencies available in most parts of the world, without relying on a central structure like banks or other financial institutions. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is looking into developing solutions to aid the inclusion and financial welfare for people in disadvantaged parts of the world.
“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Financial Services for the Poor program works to broaden the reach of low-cost digital financial services for the poor. Our strategy is aimed at supporting what we and our partners believe are the most catalytic approaches to financial inclusion: helping to drive the development of digital payment systems that can help spread use of digital financial services quickly, advancing gender equality to ensure women share in the benefits of financial inclusion, and supporting the development of national and regional strategies that accelerate progress for the poor and provide exemplar models.
Given the fact that countries have different development stages and rely on specific financial regulations, there is a need for developing customized solutions for each particular case that will be suited for such a project. Looking into individual problems will make way for the creation of particular blockchain architectures, but the goal is to help with financial inclusion and the reduction of poverty, especially in underdeveloped countries.
To achieve these objectives, we work with partners around the world to align on common principles for digital financial inclusion and support policymakers as they work to develop policies and regulations that facilitate growth in digital financial services and provide oversight and accountability. We also invest in national financial inclusion initiatives where the largest number of people living in poverty stand to benefit from digital financial services, including Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Indonesia, and East Africa.”
About Bill Gates & His Charitable Foundation
The man who founded Microsoft is also a well-esteemed philanthropist, investor, author, and humanitarian. His foundation and collateral projects have helped millions of people on different accounts: poverty, encouraging the mass-adoption of green energy consumption, etc. It all started with a vision for a better world through created custom solutions.
And it all started with a software start-up. It all started with work.
In 1994, Bill and his wife Melinda established the William H. Gates Foundation, dedicated to supporting education, world health, and investment in low-income communities around the world. In 2000, the couple combined several family foundations creating The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since stepping down from Microsoft, Gates devotes much of his time and energy to the work of making the world a better place.
As technology advances, so are his early-adoption ideas. Thus he sees great potential in using blockchain tech to empower individuals, especially since its peer-to-peer network capacities are able to foster community help and the sharing of resources, from which all can gain. A software dream, Microsoft, lead to the path Bill Gates and his wife are walking towards a better future.
And blockchain technology is one of his choices!
In order to see anything succeed, you need to deploy patience and become aware of how your business plan will unfold given the different market and technological evolution contexts. Patience wins the game. After all, you are playing the long game! The next episode of this series launches on September 26th, featuring another trailblazing businessperson.
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