Bringing the digitally excluded and "unbanked" into the fold

Jonathan Craymer
February 8, 2021

Why are so many people across the world still excluded from the banking system? Many blame the tech sector, saying there aren't enough connected devices, fingerprint readers, smart cards or whatever, out there.

Global figures vary, but according to organisations like the World Bank around 1.5bn people still can't access financial services, allowing them perhaps to start or expand businesses, save money and just as important - start building their 'digital identities'.

Even in a 'civilised' country like the UK, there are almost two million people without bank accounts ( June 2020) and in the US 25% are either unbanked (no account) or 'underbanked' (using other facilities like pay-day loans) according to the 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Admittedly things do seem to be getting better. According to the 2017 Global Findex Report some 1.2bn had come into the financial fold since 2011, mainly down to increased use of phone-based banking.

Can phones be safely carried everywhere?

But is a greater access to mobile banking the best, most sustainable solution? After all, mobiles require power to charge them and networks for them to work. Accounts can be broken into by SIM-swapping, and abusive partners, family members or even employers may confiscate them or steal money from accounts. Robbers may be even more tempted to steal the handsets, knowing they may act as gateways to online funds.

Imagine a farm worker toiling all day in wet and filth wearing just flimsy clothing because of the heat. Where does that person carry the all-important, liberating device?

Is there a better and simpler answer? Blockchain entrepreneur Joseph Thompson and his AID:Tech company have come up with a distributed ledger identity system, but even though it's a great idea, such a solution still doesn't strongly identify the ACTUAL USER. Or remove the STEALABLE ELEMENT which makes so many device-based systems vulnerable.

What if we had a new universal system for proving who we all are, which requires NO devices, NO stealable elements - NOT EVEN PHONES?

We've mentioned this before, but isn't it something of a disgrace that all of us STILL have no way to prove who we are, anywhere, any time - without documentation, gizmos or complicated questions (in other words the clunky stuff)?

Think about it. You're on holiday or business far from home. Your passport, driver's licence, phone, everything has been stolen, and you need to ring a call centre back home for assistance. But unless you can remember last transactions (if you even know what they are!), are able to answer big data questions (where you lived 10 years ago, what refrigerator you purchased five years ago) or long-forgotten 'security questions', you may be stuck.

But with a simple device-free like Shayype, which allows you to respond with a simple one-time code, you could be authenticated in seconds.

OK you'd have to be able to see one of our little 5x7 grid displays containing single digits. This could be viewed online, sent to a friend's mobile, a hotel or embassy employee by text or fax, or you could just jot down 42 numbers and answer back with a code. All via nothing more than a simple pattern or shape in your head.

We think this simple system could literally change the world. It would certainly make a world of difference to the unbanked. No fixed PIN or password for example, for a thief to steal.

Shayype does so much more. Users can identify themselves as rightful owners of accounts, without having to give away details about themselves. Individuals could not only gain access to the financial world: they stand to gain a whole new way of securely dealing with the online world.

And it's not only end-users who'll benefit. All fintechs (banks, cards, insurance etc) are losing out for want of such a system. With it they could access millions more customers. Card companies could say goodbye to a large percentage of the chargebacks. e-Commerce would enjoy a huge boost in both traffic and consumer confidence. And card fraud could almost become a thing of the past.

What a system like Shayype doesn't do is thoroughly authenticate the individual in the first place. This isn't its job: this bit is the responsibility of a Government, bank (or other fintech) or a big data company. They may go to great lengths to prove a person's identity, often with as much documentation as is available, referencing other Government departments, previous employers, previous account providers, big data holders et al. But THEN Shayype would simply allow the user to 'turn on', like a simple key, all that authentication effort and say (at long last) say 'it's me'.

Bringing the financial excluded into the fold in this way, allowing them to carry a simple secret in their heads (without a stealable element) that lets them prove who they are, anywhere, any time, will be hugely beneficial to all. You can bank on it.

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