China's pilot of 500,000 banking agents show significant promise for financial inclusion. Allowing these agents to offer a greater variety of services, such as taking deposits and opening new accounts, could lead to faster growth and more usage.
China's Alibaba Group is not only the world's largest e-commerce company, but it is also an innovator in microfinance. Alibaba leverages big data to link rural villages with the goods, sales channels and financial services they need to grow their businesses.
In Thousand Islands, Indonesia, financial access is virtually nonexistent. Since most residents have mobile phones, the introduction of branchless banking could bridge the access gap and help improve the lives of the islands' residents.