Gates Foundation Joins Blockchain Startup Coil to Support ‘Pro-poor Payment Systems’

Photo: ganphotography / Flickr

Photo: ganphotography / Flickr

As it became publicly known on Wednesday, October 17, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has collaborated with cryptocurrency platform Ripple and Coil, San Francisco-based startup leveraging Web Monetization to pay sites in real-time. The partnership is a part of the Gates Foundation’s mission to provide payment services for the unbanked.

The news came from Miller Abel’s Twitter, indicating that all three companies are going to work together aiming to implement the Interledger Protocol and find new ways of supporting “pro-poor payment systems”. Abel is the Foundation’s Deputy Director and Principal Technologist. Although no official announcement has been made by the Foundation itself yet, Abel wrote the following:

The Intelgedger Protocol represents itself an interoperability protocol allowing for payments across various crypto networks. It was developed by the Former Ripple CTO Stefan Thomas. The same technology is now being utilized by Coin as the basis for its operations.

Mojaloop is an open-source mobile payment platform for financial organizations, government regulators and other fintech industry players geared to promote mobile payments in the developing world and provide financial services for unbanked people around the world. The platform was launched by the Foundation in October 2017.

Talking about Mojaloop, Abel tweeted that “payments are in national currency of the given country, so that the system helps include and integrate the people (usually poor) who have historically been left out”.

According to the Foundation’s last year announcement, the organization was going to use Ripple’s cross-border payments system to send funds to the poorer nations of the world, with the intention of driving financial capital to countries where large populations lack basic financial services. Besides Ripple other firms which were involved in developing the pro-poor payment system included Crosslake Technologies, Software Group, ModusBox and Dwolla.

As Stefan Thomas commented to the project:

“Enabling the poor to make payments to anyone, anywhere, using a mobile wallet has implications beyond increased access to their domestic economies. It has the potential to bring millions into the fold of the global digital economy. We are honored to have been a part of this project.”

According to the statistics obtained from the World Bank in 2017, close to two billion people in developing countries lacked access to bank accounts and were thus unable to enjoy the security and benefits offered by basic financial services.

The Gate Foundation sees its main goal in expanding the availability of affordable and reliable financial services that serve the needs of all, including the poorest. One of the most important priorities for the Foundation is the development of pro-poor, digital payment systems – the mechanisms by which individuals and businesses actually buy and sell.


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