Mission: Possible – Banking the unbanked

By Jovi Overo, managing director of BaaS at Unlimint


The Oxford English Dictionary defines psychology as ‘The scientific study of the mind and how it influences behaviour’. On the surface, a background in the discipline may not seem an obvious starting point considering where I find myself today – in fintech. Moving from psychology to finance and technology may seem like a leap, but in truth, it’s been incredibly helpful in dealing with the trials and tribulations of starting and subsequently doing business. The successful ability to influence a client when starting a business is key. Communication skills are central to this and by effectively communicating the benefits of doing business, the more powerful one will be at influencing client decisions. However, this is a two-way street. It is essential that clients listen, and, to do so you must build a rapport so they both like and, perhaps more importantly, trust you. Psychology has played a starring role in helping me to sharpen these skills which have so far served me well, particularly in a client-facing role.

While psychology has given me the foundation to grow professionally, I soon realised I was in the wrong field. This is why I moved to finance and banking. I spent the early part of my financial services career as co-founder of an investment advisory firm in the City of London. I then switched to fintech via an MBA (Master of Business Administration) at Imperial College Business School. For the last decade I have been particularly involved in the startup, payments, fintech, and BaaS (Banking as a Service) sectors.

My particular interest in BaaS means I can influence real change by developing and using fintech products. My current responsibility includes building solutions and the new BaaS division from the ground up. This allows me to develop my own creativity to bring change to the sector, help clients with all their financial needs, and meet my personal goal to make the world a more interesting and innovative place through fintech. I believe fintech makes banking, payments, and financial products better and that leads to making people’s lives a little easier, a little less stressful, and a little more inclusive.

I feel that now is a particularly exciting time for the growth of fintech as well as opportunities for entrepreneurs in the sector. In fact, the global fintech market will reach $225.1 billion by the year 2027, growing at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 12.9 per cent. Growth of the market is predicted to be driven by the use of smartphones for services related to fintech and online transactions. Last year, approximately 44 per cent of payments were through a mobile app while 64 per cent of worldwide consumers utilised one or more fintech platforms.

For aspiring fintech entrepreneurs who are willing to take calculated risks and learn from mistakes and failures, the opportunities are immense. Belief in both what you are doing and trying to achieve is half the battle. Fintech, Web 3.0, Blockchain, and DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) are all in their relative infancy. If history has taught us anything it’s that successful innovation drives progress. My tip for entrepreneurs who may be considering the fintech sector is to jump in with both feet!

I would certainly say that my passion for fintech is absolute, as it makes financial products, payments, and banking better. The inevitable result is that people’s lives are easier and less stressful.

In terms of industry trends, fintech is perfectly poised for the future. Further, I think that cryptocurrency, despite its volatility, is here for the long term. Innovative credit products and solutions are also a trend that is here to stay. There will never be a shortage of customers who wish to borrow conveniently and cheaply. This represents an enormous opportunity if employed correctly in tandem with adequate credit risk management.

For over a decade, the Global Findex Database has been a conclusive source of information in relation to accessing financial services including borrowing, payments, and savings. Its 2021 report revealed an increase in financial inclusion, but also found that 1.4 billion adults around the world still remain unbanked. In developing countries, figures for those with a bank account have increased from 42 to 71 per cent in the last ten years. In 2021, Morocco (71 per cent), Vietnam (69 per cent) and Egypt (67 per cent) were the countries with the highest number of unbanked populations.

I find some of these statistics both unacceptable and inexcusable. The countries where a lot of the unbanked reside have unreliable infrastructure, such as electricity for payments processing. In addition to this, bank branches are often absent in areas where unbanked people live, and too many financial services are poorly designed and difficult to use. Therefore, financial services provided by fintech will absolutely help bridge this gap by offering mobile solutions. The conundrum of the distance between bank branches and customers can therefore be solved.

Growing up, I was rich in love but I vowed to make it a mission of mine to ensure that children should not have to go through poverty. The largest group of people living in back breaking poverty are children and children of single parent households where that single parent is a woman. Women are the largest group to be unbanked and most likely to suffer from financial inclusion. This is where my passion drives me to address this problem. We don’t do nearly enough. We can do better, and we must do better, and we WILL do better. This is my mission.


Jovi Overo is managing director of BaaS at Unlimint, an advanced all-in-one fintech solution. It provides fast-growing innovative businesses with the ability to accept and make payments globally. The company’s main offices are located in London, Frankfurt, Singapore, São Paulo, Hong Kong and Mexico.


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