Director General, World Trade Organization (WTO): Blockchain Good for Women Financial Inclusion

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Blockchain technology can help to empower women who are unbanked or underbanked across the world, according to the Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi-Okonjo Iweala.

This is another recent indication from the global financial powers about the opportunity for financial inclusion that crypto and blockchains present.

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The former Finance Minister of Nigeria believes that blockchains ‘bring more transparency in the way business is done by removing intermediaries.’

She added that ‘the ability to introduce this into transactions could be particularly beneficial to women who are often excluded from access to finance.’

According to the World Bank Global Findex Database, in developing countries, women are 9% less likely to own a financial account compared to men.

The current pandemic has also made financial inclusion worse. In Africa, lack of employment and poor financial infrastructure are some of the leading reasons behind low financial inclusion.

Women are also more likely to suffer from gender bias, which affects their access to financial services. However, technologies like mobile money have expanded the access to finance for many poor people across the continent.

For example, in Kenya, private mobile money services have increased the rate of inclusion to over 80%. This is an indicator of the potential technology has towards solving such problems.

Other than transparency, blockchain and cryptocurrencies have more features that are potentially of benefit for financial access. The trustless nature of bitcoins can help solve gender bias, while cryptocurrencies can help to remove cost barriers that make finance expensive, since they are stateless.

As a result of this, increasingly more business-minded people across the continent are resorting to crypto for cross-border trade, with movements such as the recent Nigerian SARS protests, which was also largely faciliated by a women organization, Feminist Coalition, even receiving donations in crypto.

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