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.
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.
QR codes last year facilitated $2.5 trillion in retail payments in China, and their use is gaining momentum in countries like India. But how do they work? And what is their potential to increase financial inclusion?
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.