The way Ben Lyon sees it, the finance world is in the middle of a revolution, and the simple text message is at the heart of it.
Lyon created a system to bring formal financial services to microfinance institutions and poor entrepreneurs via a mobile phone. He believes the new software, to be launched by the organization he founded, FrontlineSMS:Credit, could change the world of microfinance by changing the way the poor interact with the institutions.
The self-described “ideas man” will be among the first speakers at this week’s annual PopTech conference, held in Camden, Maine.
“We’re in the middle of a financial revolution,” Lyon said. “The way the global poor interact with the global financial system is completely shaking up the world. It’s changing everything. There’s nothing more anonymous than a cash transaction. As more people find it useful to use mobile money, the data from those transactions will be housed forever and it’s no longer anonymous so we become less susceptible to fraud and all sorts of efficiencies and transparencies are gained.”
In Africa, over 300 million people have cell phones but for many access to banks is quite limited, or non-existent, especially for those living in remote regions.