On the front end, it’s hard to argue with SMS and text as an interface in the developing world, even as messaging apps like WhatsApp are gaining steam in popularity. SMS has decades worth of familiarity to billions of users, grandfathered in with the earliest cell phones, but it is still quick and nimble enough to work on modern networks without a huge data load.
It can also easily, securely, quickly and safely pay merchants, buy goods or services, and make deposits or send remittances. It offers the holy grail of digital banking, especially for the world’s nearly two billion unbanked: Your identity, and the associated number, can work as both bank and clearinghouse.
On the back end, 5G and blockchain offer the promise of a potent combination. Blockchain can secure mobile banking networks that will have to secure transactions on a very granular level, while 5G itself will make sure these complex networks don’t strain under the weight of blockchains.
If crypto networks can deliver payments solutions to these populations, it will be a major stride forward for both the unbanked and underbanked.
This evolution in banking could be the first step in additional needed changes for the developing world, such as providing better and more reliable access to electricity and high-speed internet, reducing the high fees associated with transactions and remittance payments, and limiting government corruption and general economic volatility.
If that’s all 5G ends up doing, it may be a greater leap forward than what has already been envisioned and promised by all those in the mobile industry.