A while ago, I read a fascinating book called “Infinite Vision” by Pavithra K. Mehta and Suchitra Shenoy that details how a retired doctor (known affectionately as Dr.V) made it his mission to provide the gift of sight to what he called ‘preventable blindness.’ As noble a cause as this is, Dr. V realized that serving the unserved required a fundamental rethink of the business model, where most can’t pay for quality service.
His dilemma was to come up with a revolutionary way to craft service delivery (eye surgeries, post-op care and so on) ideally for free but most affordable for anyone who does desire to pay. A daunting problem indeed – but this book details how he achieved his vision. Each year, his hospital alone does 60 percent as many eye surgeries as the United Kingdom’s National Health System, at one one-thousandth of the cost and with superior outcomes. Dr. V was guided in this journey by the philosophy of Aurobindo (an Indian philosopher) who argued that engaging with the manifest material world (as against turning away from it) allowed for a divine life.
A 2013 study by FDIC of unbanked and underbanked households in the U.S. found that more than one in four households (27.7 percent) are either unbanked or underbanked. An estimated 7.7 percent of households (about 10 million) are unbanked and another 20 percent of households (or 24 million) are underbanked.
So, as we look at how banks and financial institutions will look to serving and servicing the 1 in every 4 households better, will they do it because they see it as a ‘right’ for the household as they seek financial well-being? If they do, it will certainly beget a new era in banking with efficiency requirements and cost control like we’ve never seen before.
The need for financial services abounds at all ages. It is the perspective that we bring that allows the service to be crafted. Disruptive technologies and business models abound only because the ‘smarter’ ones have seen the need and are trying to create the opportunity. The Payments space is ripe with disruptions happening all over the world. Speaking with our Payments expert, Bruce Hrovat, leaves you convinced that the chasm caused by this disruption is filled with profitable business models. M-PESA is an example of the type of disruption that actually brought the unbanked (and underbanked) into the payments world.
Altruism in banking services isn’t just an ideal anymore. The ubiquitous nature of technology is allowing for this ‘infinite vision’ to become a reality, including in financial services.