Backed by three years of funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the GSMA is launching a research and pilot program with the goal of tech inclusivity, particularly financial inclusion via mobile.

The new Inclusive Tech Lab will provide a “hands-on approach to research, testing and development of the inclusive technologies of the future,” according to GSMA.

John Giusti, chief regulatory officer for the industry organization, said that the Tech Lab joins GSMA’s efforts in its Mobile for Development program, which focuses on supporting projects that expand the use of mobile or offer mobile-specific solutions to underserved or low-income communities around the world.

The lab, Giusti said, “will allow our team of dedicated ‘technopreneurs’ the opportunity to take a hands-on approach to break down the barriers to economic and social inclusion further.”

“We are thinking big. We want to make a real impact,” wrote Bart-Jan Pors in a GSMA blog post on the Inclusive Tech Lab. “Think about breaking down barriers to financial services for unregistered people by developing digital identities. Think about enabling wide availability of loans, insurance and education through seamless integrations between service providers and mobile money operators. Think about the responsible application of artificial intelligence to tailor services for women and increase their economic participation. These challenges, and many more, will be driving our thinking as we help develop the transformative digital innovations of tomorrow.”

Matt Bohan, senior program officer for Financial Services for the Poor at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said that the lab will “strategize, build and pilot technologies to support the industry with innovations to drive financial inclusion for the poorest. The Lab will enable us to create and explore products, from interoperability platforms to standardized APIs and more, that will help the industry to drive innovation to include poor people at a whole new pace and scale.”

The lab will also receive guidance from its Advisory Group, which will help to “assess, prioritize and contribute towards potential project ideas received by the Lab.” The Gates Foundation will have a represenative on the board, along with industry representatives that include GoPay, IDEMIA, KaiOS, Mowali, Telenor, the University of Washington, VEON and Vodafone

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