Look no further than a mobile device, in-store payment terminal or even the latest wearable device to experience firsthand how advancing technologies are making digital payments more accessible than ever before.
But is it possible that the shift away from the use of cash-based payments could also contribute to increasing access to the financial world overall?
Citi says yes.
Sandeep Dave, Citi’s Director of Global Digital Strategy, recently sat down with PYMNTS to discuss how digital payments aren’t just enhancing the ways in which we pay, but they also have the potential to solve the financial inclusion problem that still haunts digital payments adoption in many countries worldwide.
Citi’s Digital Money Index 2016, which measures the readiness of digital money across 90 countries, reveals the benefits gained through a global push toward digital money adoption.
“According to our estimates, just a 10 percent improvement in digital money adoption and moving away from cash can shift 220 million individuals into the formal financial sector,” Dave explained.
With that shift, he added, an additional $1 trillion can also be moved into the formal economy.
The data show what a powerful impact payments can have on the financial landscape in these countries.
If both the public and private sectors made a substantial effort to increase the adoption of digital money on a global scale, it could mean a significant transformation to the payment landscape as we know it.
But Dave admitted that this isn’t as easy as it seems.
“Sometimes we as practitioners get carried away with cryptocurrency and some of the most recent hype – but if you really focus on [digital money adoption] and the volumes and numbers we are talking about from the sheer fact of moving from cash and enabling digital payments, it has a substantial impact,” he explained.
It’s clear that consumers don’t just wake up in the morning with the mindset of, “I want to conduct a transaction today,” because, as Dave noted, commerce is something that just gets done.
“We truly believe that it's less about payments,” he said. Which is why Citi is taking an approach to digital money that Dave said instead hones in on the thick and thin of the payment experience itself.
Could it be time for the industry to take a different approach to cultivating financial inclusion, one instead that starts with pushing the usage and adoption of digital commerce forward?