Tales of triple-digit growth and billion-dollar buyouts make great headlines for FinTech companies.

But it can be easy to forget that those are first-world FinTech headlines. Those metrics have a different meaning to the approximately 90 percent of the world’s population residing outside of the so-called G7 nations. These seven nations include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and USA and represent more than 62% of global net worth but just 10% of the population.

A recent panel discussion in San Francisco hosted by Empire Startups provided some great insight into the powerful ideas and initiatives taking place in the financial inclusion movement. Instead of record earnings and exits, the focus is on bringing financial services to the unbanked and underbanked.

G7 stats courtesy of nationmaster.com

G7 stats courtesy of nationmaster.com

The evening offered an interesting perspective for those of us who typically focus on a wealthier G7 type of cohort rather than the Next Billion people who have yet to climb the ladder of financial inclusion.

  • The creativity, ingenuity and passion displayed by these organizations is impressive, as is their ability to reimagine cost-to-serve models and leap into markets where traditional banks fear to tread.
  • Many of the organizations working on financial inclusion are necessarily cross-border to include underserved populations. It’s interesting to see how these different organizations define and address the challenges of financial inclusion.
  • The innovative use of technology and cross-border collaboration with government and compliance organizations around the world provides interesting insights for traditional financial services and FinTechs.

These Fintech companies are excited about doing things traditional banks find uninteresting and unprofitable.

The evening’s guests included moderator Adam Herling – Senior Manager of Financial Solutions Lab, CFSI. Panelists included:

  • Cynthia McMurray, Head of International Partnerships, Nova Credit
  • Anatoly Kvitnitsky, VP of Growth & Corporate Development, Trulioo
  • Sameh Elamawy, Co-Founder & CEO, Scratch
  • Schan Duff, Senior Director, Juvo

These four companies are tackling massive problems that have dogged traditional finance:

Nova Credit aims to transfer financial identities and credit histories across borders. It seems that today’s credit histories typically are not portable. As a result, many people with solid credit histories in their own countries often relocate only to find they are offered subpar financial products. Nova Credit’s platform functions as a sort of cross-border credit bureau that enables immigrants to bring their credit histories with them. By enabling people to move their credit histories, they can avoid subpar financial options such as payday loans and secured credit cards.

Trulioo is a RegTech company that’s not yet a household name, but already boasts impressive global reach. The company says it offers instant electronic identity and address verification for over 4.5 billion people in more than 100 countries through a single API. Trulioo analytics are based on public records, credit files, government data, mobile applications, e-commerce websites, social networks and social logins.

Juvo aims to establish financial identities for billions of people around the globe who are creditworthy, yet face financial exclusion. In partnership with mobile network operators, Juvo’s proprietary Identity Scoring technology uses data science, machine learning and game mechanics to create an identity-based relationship with prepaid mobile users to provide access to quality financial services. The company says many mobile users simply buy and discard prepaid SIMs as they need them. The issues are that users don’t establish identity or credit history and mobile operators know little about customer. Juvo enables the use of a single SIM to help mobile users establish identity and creditworthiness.

Scratch can be described as a non-traditional loan servicer. Traditional originators market to borrowers, then processes and fund loans before selling them to servicers. Scratch was built on the idea that while the loan application process has been vastly streamlined and improved, the experience of paying back a loan remains arcane and challenging for users. Scratch partners with companies to help them deliver a better borrower experience by replacing legacy systems with current technology that enables a more personalized, flexible and transparent experience.

These FinTech companies are excited about doing things that banks find unprofitable.

It seems that companies that are born digital and grow up lean are learning how to deliver financial services to audiences deemed unprofitable by traditional standards.Today, over 2 billion people lack access to modern financial services.

You can bet that traditional financial service providers are keeping a close eye on the progress of FinTech companies in financial inclusion movement. It may be where their next billion customers come from.