The first step to banking the unbanked

Many people in developed countries ignore how the internet has enabled them to thrive as a society. In places without the internet, access to basic services such as banking, education and health care remains scarce and expensive. With barriers to entry high, many are left without banking services and opportunities to connect to the global economy.

The first step to banking the unbanked

Sub-Saharan Africa suffers from a lack of well-developed and up-to-date internet services. In 2019, only 0.58% of sub-Saharan Africans had broadband access, and in many places internet penetration is currently low as internet access becomes more affordable elsewhere.

Due to rapid construction with no plans to create a connectivity infrastructure, underground cables are almost non-existent and are now very difficult to construct. Along the coast, urban areas have access to fiber-optic cable at sea, but inland remains a challenge for hardware-bound broadband internet access.

The solution to this problem is wireless internet with wireless connectivity that can cover large areas of land with little hardware infrastructure. In connecting Africa, the ability to provide fast internet access with affordable technology has the potential to change the continent rapidly.

While wireless internet is the solution to this problem, cell towers in Africa are very outdated and are almost exclusively limited to 2G and 3G hardware. This means that even though 73 out of 100 users have a cellular connection, only 20% of them have decent internet access. This limited connectivity severely limits the ability of African citizens to connect to the global economy. In addition to participating in the global economy, it limits access to services such as education and healthcare that can save lives and empower the next generation of creators.

Banking is very limited in Africa, both locally and online. By 2022, 57% of Africans will say they do not have a bank account, either digital or physical. 40% of banking service providers prefer digital transaction processing, which is highly coveted by the online banking market. Providing internet services is the first step in solving this problem for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Blockchain offers a way to connect individuals to the internet and the ability to banking with decentralized finance, with companies like 3air at the forefront of change. Barriers to DeFi entry are low, and without intermediaries, there are minimal fees for peer-to-peer transactions – provided the service is supported on the right blockchain network. High throughput networks such as the SKALE blockchain allow for unlimited transaction throughput per second without end-user gas fees. In places where the costs associated with banking can determine whether people have access to everything, blockchain with low or no gas fees is essential.

Internet access can be provided via NFT, allowing users to own their data and have full control over their subscriptions. This NFT will empower African consumers by giving them ownership of their subscriptions. The Internet Web3 will connect millions of disenfranchised to the global economy for the first time. This will enable unprecedented GDP growth in African countries struggling to compete with the world’s developed nations. Today, with most economies online, access to these services is an essential part of life.