I’m going to write the last of my blogs at this point on being purpose-driven to reference something that irks me a lot. Exclusivity.
We have exclusivity a lot in life. The idea is that it creates ambition, hope, focus, hunger, direction and reward. We want the next airmile to get silver status and then the next upgrade to achieve gold. We want to be part of a tribe, whether that tribe be the gym membership or the tennis club. We want to attend the social networking to be accepted into the inner sanctum and then the core. We are jealous of the next door neighbours who just got accepted to the council membership we have hoped to be part of for the past few months, years, decades.
It is best typified by the episode of Frasier where Professor Crane and brother Niles are miffed about not getting access to the Gold Lounge, only to find there is a Diamond Lounge and then the Platinum.
It is this need for aspiration that is instilled in consumer culture, and reinforced by our bronze, silver, gold, platinum and black status symbols. Oh, and now metal cards, of course.
And yet there is the other side of this aspirational, status fuelled culture. The excluded. The people who would just like a card of any colour, and to be included. The numbers are reducing, but billions of people are not on the internet, have no bank account, cannot get access to finance and feel rejected.
The great unwashed and unloved are the people who sit in economies that are renovating. These are the people finding basic finance through financial inclusion, which many banks still see as charitable work. It’s not charity at all, as demonstrated by China’s WeBank, but many still see the millions of minions as being not worth it. The fact is that everyone is worth it, if you have a purpose.
The purpose-driven banks of this world, of which WeBank and MyBank are examples, believe that everyone should have opportunity. The same is true of the work of companies like Craft Silicon in Africa, PayTM in India and more. In fact, my favourite story is that of Vijay Shekhar Sharma, the founder of PayTM who, a decade ago, was homeless. Sure, he eggs the story a bit, but if a homeless Indian can create a firm worth billions in a decade, then so could anyone.
It is a point I make often at conferences, which is that the digital world includes everyone. Anyone who can pick up a mobile telephone, no matter how basic, can now talk, trade, transact and be included, no matter where they are in the world. Some say I am idealistic. The most extreme and remote peoples are not included, they say. My answer is maybe they should not be. I learned that one from the guy who challenged me about why is financial inclusion a good thing?
And I guess this strikes at the heart of everything. If you are not in a world of money and banking and it has never been a part of your culture, then all you focus upon is having a good life with food, shelter and family. Unfortunately, humanity has built a different world that focuses upon aspiration and need for more worth, as this forces us to focus upon work and submissiveness … until we get to the point where the aspiration and need is fully funded, at which point we can move on to philanthropy and investment or fun and greed. You takes your choice.
In other words, if you are in an economy where money matters, then money gives you a purpose. Hmmm … that’s a little bit deep. Back to shallow blogging from now on. Promise.
Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...