A fintech company based in Canary Wharf is working to alleviate global poverty by increasing financial inclusion.
AinFin , based in One Canada Square’s tech hub of Level39 , is inspired by the idea that individuals, communities and countries cannot improve their economic standing without proper access to financial services.
The company was founded in June 2016, and rolled out its Swifin e-money platform to Uganda in November where it works with communities which do not have access to banking - the “unbanked” - to help them save, transfer and withdraw money.
AinFin’s chief executive and co-founder Dr Joy Braun was born and raised in the Philippines before moving to Europe and said she has always been aware of the important role financial services could play in improving life in developing countries.
She said: “If you look at the world, there are about two and a half billion people who are unbanked. In the continent of Africa, about 85% of the population is unbanked.
“If you don’t have a bank account, it’s difficult to access any financial services. All these people are still dealing in cash – travelling to the nearest town to collect it or storing it under their beds – and it’s risky.
“If a country has limited access to liquidity, they will have a problem with economic development. It’s the same thing in communities. If you don’t have access to liquidity then progress will always be slow.
“We understand the role of financial services in the development process. It will be very, very difficult for any country to successfully allow economic development without a fully functioning financial system.”
She added: “We want to democratise banking. When more people are part of the financial system it’s good for the community and it’s good for the individual. It’s good for the whole world to open up the global financial market.”
AinFin uses a variety of systems to help people access money, from apps on smart phones to distributed bank cards. For a pilot scheme alongside the UN, the company provided refugees living in Ugandan camps with individual codes that they could repeat to agents or merchants in order to directly access or transfer money.
The company, which has just launched in Cameroon, is also hoping to expand across the UK and Europe to help bring financial services to anyone who needs them.
Joy said: “We want to make it easier for companies to access their money. We want to provide better services than banks. Our technology is advanced enough to change the entire banking system, and we have been able to show that targeting social development goals can have a financial benefit for our investors.
“Our platform is future-proof. We are ready to include innovations to the platform, but first and foremost, we need people to have access with whatever they have in terms of technology. You can’t force people to use something more complicated or more expensive than they are used to. We are slowly bringing them into the tech world.
“When you’re a business in London there are a lot of emerging technologies and you get pushed in the direction of using them. But really, the more important challenge for us is getting the poor and unbanked to be a part of the whole system. That’s where the greatest social benefit will be.
“We are democratising banking across the world. Anyone can be a part of it. Wherever we can make a difference, that’s where we’ll go and that’s what we’ll do. “
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