From the digital divide to inclusive innovation: the case of digital money

A new pamphlet by Irving Wladawsky-Berger et al for the Royal Society (RSA):  “The history of economic development has been characterised by periods of massive transformation brought about by technological  innovation. As well as creating new industries, technology transforms the  ways we live and work. Steam power led to industrialisation and rapid urbanisation, electricity enabled the assembly line and mass production of consumer goods, the automobile encouraged mass mobility and the development of suburban living, and the internet and world wide web have revolutionised access to communications and knowledge. It is very hard to anticipate the consequences of such enormously disruptive technologies. Technology continues to surprise, seen, for example, in the unexpected growth of SMS messaging and social networking and the massive changes brought about by online media and music.

This pamphlet is concerned with a profoundly transformative technology, one that affects a crucial element of the fabric of society. It examines digital money, a technology that moves economic transactions, payments, remittances, transfers etc, from the physical into the digital world. Just as communications and publishing have been transformed by digital technologies, so too will financial services. The progress of digital money will inevitably surprise us and it will develop in unexpected ways, but we believe it is on the cusp of delivering a remarkable transformation in the global economy. It will end the divide between those who can and those who cannot participate in formal economic transactions. It may usher in a new era of more inclusive innovation that involves billions of more people around the world in constructing the services that affect their future…”

M DODGSON, D GANN, I WLADAWSKY-BERGER

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