There are roughly 2.5 billion people in the world who do not have access to even the most basic financial services, and many of these 'unbanked' individuals feel as though little attention is being paid to them. Others are 'underbanked,' taking the position that they are only offered quasi-banking services at unfair rates.
These 'underbanked' individuals at least have access to some type of financial services--the unbanked are largely cut out of the economy altogether. This problem has created opportunity for emerging technologies.
The growth of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and blockchain based technologies could be the worst nightmare for the banking industry by offering new hope to the world's unbanked, particularly the hundreds of millions of unbanked in Asia. Massive changes seem to be coming to the world financial infrastructure and, while it could obliterate the status quo banking gatekeepers, it could also greatly empower the individual.
One interesting effort to date is being crafted by Sentinel Chain, which is specifically building a blockchain-based marketplace to unite the unbanked and the rest of the world financially. Its token sale has been announced for March 2018.
The Sentinel Chain's initial services seek to provide the unbanked with many of the same financial opportunities that many of us take for granted. It is planning to offer its service primarily to many of the unbanked, who have amassed wealth through accumulation of livestock but not money, a blockchain based livestock asset verification. This may not be as valuable to individuals in the U.S. as it is to the myriad livestock owners abroad, where ownership of livestock often remains a sign of wealth in more localized economies.
Other financial companies may also be better able to serve the needs of the unbanked by leveraging the Sentinel Chain. Insurance companies, for example, can use the blockchain to facilitate the offering of livestock insurance. Financing companies can use the chain for loan agreement record keeping and to verify livestock used as collateral. The project also hopes to provide an inexpensive and secure means of making e-payments to individuals, local merchants or international companies.
Sentinel recently launched a partnership with VeChain to collaborate on the development of cross chain interoperability. This should allow businesses and individual users access to public livestock provenance data while preserving the privacy of livestock provenance data on the local networks. The partnership with VeChain may enhance the functionality of the Sentinel Chain and be a nice fit with its corporate mission, facilitating financial services and features to people of all social classes, and improving the world as a whole.