Over two billion adults around the world lack access to formal financial services. For hundreds of millions more, access is tenuous. Financial inclusion aims to address these challenges, and can play a vital role in elevating people out of poverty, enabling savings and entrepreneurship, and promoting gender equity.

I co-direct the Financial and Digital Inclusion Project (FDIP) at the Brookings Institution. Launched in 2014, FDIP is a multiyear effort to assess the state of financial inclusion in about two dozen low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East to identify what solutions are working, and why. In addition, I am very interested in the role of smartphones in enabling people at the margins of the financial system to gain access — not only to financial services but also to a wider range of digital information and services.

At UCLA, I have been overseeing a research project to develop a smartphone app and the associated backend database infrastructure to provide improved flexibility and security for mobile-phone based financial offerings for people at the margins of the financial system. I am a strong believer in the power of mobile technology to bring hundreds of millions of more people online in the coming years, fundamentally changing how they access and disseminate information.

The 2016 Brookings Financial Inclusion Report

John Villasenor, Darrell West, and Robin Lewis “The 2016 Brookings Financial and Digital Inclusion Project Report: Advancing equitable financial ecosystems,The Brookings Institution, August 2016

The 2015 Brookings Financial Inclusion Report

John Villasenor, Darrell West, and Robin Lewis “The 2015 Brookings Financial and Digital Inclusion Project Report: Measuring Progress on Financial Access and Usage,The Brookings Institution, August 2015

Podcast

John Villasenor and Fred Dews, “Financial ecosystems and the move toward equity,” The Brookings Institution, August 26, 2016

Papers

Jerry Lien, Laura Hughes, Jorge Kina, and John Villasenor, “Mobile Money Solutions for a Smartphone-Dominated World,” Journal of Payments Strategy & Systems, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp. 341-350, Fall, 2015. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2632372

John Villasenor, “Smartphones for the Unbanked: How Mobile Money Will Drive Digital Inclusion in Developing Countries,” The Brookings Institution, September 2013

Financial Inclusion Blog Posts

Robin Lewis, John Villasenor and Darrell M. West, “Financial inclusion week 2016: Prioritizing customers in the digital ecosystem,” The Brookings Institution, October 31, 2016

Robin Lewis, John Villasenor and Darrell M. West, “Financial inclusion opportunities in Africa,” The Brookings Institution, September 9, 2016

Robin Lewis, John Villasenor and Darrell M. West, “Financial inclusion progress and possibilities in Southeast and Central Asia,” The Brookings Institution, August 29, 2016

Robin Lewis, John Villasenor and Darrell M. West, “Progress and pitfalls for equitable financial access and usage in Latin America and the Caribbean,” The Brookings Institution, August 18, 2016

Robin Lewis, John Villasenor and Darrell M. West, “Mexico illustrates global drive toward advancing financial inclusion,” The Brookings Institution, August 11, 2016

Robin Lewis, John Villasenor and Darrell M. West, “Bridging the financial inclusion gender gap,” The Brookings Institution, April 1, 2016

Robin Lewis, John Villasenor and Darrell M. West, “Fostering financial inclusion and financial integrity: Brookings roundtable readout,” The Brookings Institution, November 12, 2015

Robin Lewis, John Villasenor and Darrell M. West, “Financial inclusion in Latin America: Regulatory trends and market opportunities,” The Brookings Institution, October 29, 2015

Robin Lewis, John Villasenor and Darrell M. West, “Monitoring milestones: Financial inclusion progress among FDIP countries,” The Brookings Institution, October 15, 2015

Robin Lewis, Darrell M. West, and John Villasenor, “Inclusion across Africa: Findings from five FDIP countries,” The Brookings Institution, October 1, 2015

Robin Lewis, John Villasenor and Darrell M. West, “Advancing financial inclusion in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East,” The Brookings Institution September 16, 2015

Robin Lewis, John Villasenor and Darrell M. West, “Inclusion in India: Unpacking the 2015 FDIP Report and Scorecard,” The Brookings Institution, September 9, 2015

Robin Lewis, John Villasenor and Darrell M. West, “Five key findings from the 2015 Financial and Digital Inclusion Project Report & Scorecard,” The Brookings Institution, September 2, 2015

Peer Stein and John Villasenor, “Keeping banks open for the world’s poor,” The Brookings Institution, February 27, 2015