11.02.2015

Bill and Melinda Gates: The smartphone will change the world

Bill and Melinda Gates: The smartphone will change the world

Image | Gates Notes

“The lack of access to simple and cheap financial services aggravates the conditions of poverty,” affirm Bill and Melinda Gates in their recently published report, which, like the previous reports, comes at the dawn of a new year. In the document that they refer to simply as a ‘letter’, the couple analyze the principal challenges facing global society and the trends they will follow over the next 15 years.

The quotation above comes from a section in the text focusing on the impact of the mobile phone in underdeveloped countries. They don’t only focus on telephones: as should be clear from the quotation the Gates are talking specifically about economic transactions carried out with mobile phones. They state that, in 15 years, digital banking will give poor people more control over their belongings and will transform their lives.

Bill and Melinda Gates: The smartphone will change the world

Image | Gates Notes

In their analysis they explain that currently the inhabitants of many African and East Asian regions use inefficient financial services. They store their savings at home, they buy goods that lose value quickly and send money to their family through third parties who aren’t even professional workers. A change in the old way of doing things, facilitated by the use of smartphones, represents an incredible advance for them and things are only going to keep on improving.

Melinda and Bill don’t stop there: they believe that in the next 15 years the lives of these people will improve more quickly than in any other time in history thanks, in large part, to improvements in technology. In some developing countries there is already a regulating framework that allows citizens to store their money digitally and use them to buy as if they were credit cards.

They predict that by the year 2030, 2 billion people that at the moment don’t even have a bank account will save and manage their money using smartphones. By this time, organisations will be offering a wide gamut of financial services for these new users, from savings accounts to insurance.

Another field of life in which pair foresee a large role for technology is education. When telephone networks finish their expansion into the less industrialised corners of the globe the smartphone will definitely replace the old model of phone only suitable for telephone calls, and online classes will become the norm.

The Gates consider this progress in the field of education to be nothing less than a revolution, a before and after moment not only for developed countries where the shift is already perceptible, but also in other parts of the world experience a rapid level of growth. In these places, the demand for teaching is so large that a definitive step into the world of digital education is the only way to guarantee education for all.

Bill and Melinda Gates: The smartphone will change the world

Image | Gates Notes

The report refers to two more fields in which the couple expect a dramatic change. In regards to health they say that child mortality will be halved and that in 15 years we will have eradicated various diseases. As for nourishment and the management of resources, the Gates are sure that Africa will be able to care for its own with the need for external aid; they will use more advanced farming and agricultural techniques in order to eliminate their dependency on others.

Finally, the American couple, two of the largest benefactors in the world, demonstrate their faith in mankind: they believe that, in the future all of us will widen our “circle of compassion” and help more in matters of family, regions and state –. from our own backyards to distant corners of the world. There will be more people with enough resources to lend a hand to those who don’t, and the number of people who don’t have enough resources will have also diminished. They’ve made their predictions, now we have to wait 15 years to see if they are on the money of if optimism has got the better of them.