Technology Driving Solutions for the Developing World
It is amazing how technology is changing the business landscape on a day to day basis. One day a family in the United States is sending remittances to family members in the developing world at an 8% charge plus a most unfriendly exchange rate, and the next, money is moving virtually freely between those tech savvy enough to find an app that fits the bill. By way of example, the Wall Street Journal cited a startup in the Philippines called Rebit, which apparently converts any currency into bitcoin and simultaneously transfers it to another user and converts it to the recipient’s home country’s currency. The transaction costs can be as low as 1%, with no bitcoin volatility because the transaction occurs so fast. http://www.wsj.com/articles/here-comes-almost-free-money-1433715790?mod=trending_now_4 (sub. req.)
At one end of the spectrum are large scale energy efficiency projects and inventions that are sorely needed in the developing world in order to maximize the use of production capacity. Such projects are macro projects that need government funding, or large utilities to implement them, require years and sometimes forced buy-in by the people and businesses of a country. These projects are necessary, but are often slowed and bogged down by red-tape, and peoples learned distrust of their governments and the government utilities, which has grown over years of inefficiency, bribery, stealing and other corruption. The right technology can still change the world.
At the other end of the spectrum are start-ups and technology companies that provide innovative solutions to real world problems for everyday people. Folks who make the day to day lives of families in Honduras, or the Philippines easier and less costly. These types of inventions can have an immediate impact, but to make money require large amounts of participation and popularity among the people.
That said, the time is right to move your business’ focus to the impact it can have in the developing world, and the money to be made there. Take some time and study the difficulties faced by people who live outside of the richest countries in the world, and also look at the growing middle classes and consumers in the developing world looking for the comforts that we have. The developing world presents a massive market that is far more receptive to innovations than most of us in the richer countries are. Think of the impact that saving seven cents on the dollar could have on the recipients’ of the $123 Billion dollars that was sent overseas by individuals in the United States alone in 2012. Then think of the money to be made if you win that market. 1% of $123 Billion is fairly substantial, and that only includes remittances from the United States.
Big ideas require strategic implementation, and entry into foreign markets can be difficult, but the reward in providing a service that is wanted, needed and beneficial in exchange for a healthy profit cannot be beat.