About the Author: Siobhan M. Sheils serves in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs."Mobile money" is revolutionizing the way people around the world use money. Today, about 80 percent of the world's population owns a cell phone. Mobile money capitalizes on this pervasive technology, empowering people to make financial transactions via their cell phone. At the nexus of Secretary Clinton's goals for 21st century statecraft and financial inclusion, mobile money offers access to those traditionally outside the realm of economic opportunity.
At the State Department this morning -- and joining live from Colombia, Guatemala, Estonia, and other U.S. Embassies across the globe -- innovators with an interest in branchless banking convened for the second Tech@State to discuss the way forward for mobile money initiatives. The content-rich, thought-provoking day featured panels, case studies, and break-out groups.
Opening the seminar, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero noted that mobile money represents the next step for microfinance, bypassing the need for traditional bricks-and-mortar banking structures. "Innovative thinking and expansive worldviews are goals only achieved when the least among us are given opportunity," said the Under Secretary.
Here's why this matters, and why the State Department's role in hosting today's event is key: State Department officials can highlight the potential of governments around the world, convene important stakeholders, and facilitate public-private projects that unleash innovation, scale-up economic growth, and foster greater accountability. An example of innovative foreign policy and diplomacy, today's event provides a platform to share the ideas that empower individuals at the base of the pyramid through simple technology. Learn more here.
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