Ecosystem Podcast RCast Spotlight

RCast 8: Rethinking Banking (with José V. Fernández and Ori Shimony of Access)


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In the 1978 movie, Rockers, Leeroy “Horsemouth” Wallace utilizes the most accessible record distribution service at his disposal: his motorcycle. The reggae drummer scoots around Kingston peddling vinyl, stocking local stores piece by piece in order to ensure that his music was available for purchase.


Though a fictional movie about reggae in the seventies, humans have always worked with the resources at hand. While talking with José V. Fernández (President) and Ori Shimony (R&D Lead) of Access, a financial services network facilitating local economic development through on-demand mobile banking and crowdsourced problem solving, I was surprised but not shocked that some of their agents in Africa helped people bank by purchasing mopeds and motorcycles from their agent fees.

It makes sense. Other banks have failed to infiltrate regions that Access covers by opening brick-and-mortar branches. The problem, Fernández told me, is that these locations are only open during traditional banking hours. The people they’re attempting to service live ten to twenty miles away and work during the day.

Many of us take banking for granted. Though the World Bank claims the number of unbanked has gone down to under two billion people, Fernández thinks this statistic is skewed. While the number of global citizens that have opened up an account has grown, many have never made one deposit; add to this that they don’t have access to loans or growth capital. This is why Access claims it serves the underbanked.

Brick-and-mortar branches simply cannot reach as many people as phones do—smartphones, or even “dumbphones,” as Fernández puts it during our conversation. Access is, according to him, “a bank that meets the sharing economy.” The organization has agents across Africa and is involved in many forward-thinking projects, including offering solar power through blockchain to the 600 million Africans that don’t have regular (or any) access to electricity.

As we move toward a cashless world, mobile solutions for banking are going to become necessary for the planet’s population. RChain is, by design and intention, a blockchain platform for new social coordination technologies to launch from. Access is looking down the road to creating solutions that matter for the underbanked…and beyond.