Professor Speaks on Improving Quality of Life for World’s Poorest at United Nations Event
Creating economic bridges is the life work of Dr. Nir Kshetri, professor in the Department of Management at the Bryan School. He builds these bridges through his research into how the poorest people in the world can benefit from cloud computing and technology.
Last week, Kshetri was in Delhi, India, sharing his research and insights at the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, a summit that promotes cooperation among developing countries. A seasoned advisor to the United Nations, having worked with a variety of agencies throughout the past few decades, Kshetri was invited to this summit to speak on two areas of his expertise:
1. Big Data’s Role in Expanding Access to Financial Services in Southern Countries
“Big data solutions can aid poor people’s access to financial services. For example, in my country of origin, Nepal, it’s difficult simply to open a bank account because this requires four different documents that most people don’t have. They don’t have credit ratings either, so less than 10% of the population has access to financial institutions. The only option for who do not have access to the formal banking system would be get loan from village loan sharks who charge outrageous interest rates of 200% or more,” he explained.
“However, most people do have a cell phone, even in the poorest countries. Phones are very inexpensive. Finance technology (Fintec) companies can use the data from someone’s cell phone in order to bypass the traditional methods of screening in order to provide small loans of $5-$20. This use of big data solutions can make a huge difference for a poor person.”
2. Blockchain Technology and Financial Regulations in Promoting Sustainable Development
“This decentralized technology is one of the most accessible in the world and has vast applications. For example, in India, only 15% of the population has any kind of insurance – but insurance fraud is rampant. If someone gets hold of an insured person’s card or information, they can use it. With Blockchain technology, there’s no reliance on numerous agencies to verify who someone is. All of a person’s information is held in decentralized blockchain technology. It creates a space for trust, where a person’s identity can be easily confirmed, and fraud can be prevented.
Another example of blockchain technology is with business invoices. In countries such as China and India, a large proportion of invoices and other documents are fake, and there is a lot of trepidation related to paying invoices. Blockchain technology provides independent verification of the authenticity of an invoice and a person’s identity.”
Kshetri grew up in a rural village in Nepal; he knows what it is to be this poor. He had the fortitude and good fortune to receive excellent higher education and is committed to helping bridge the gaps between technology and poverty so that underprivileged people can prosper.
“Globalization is one of the main areas of emphasis at the Bryan School. It’s important to understand 80% of the global population – what their lives are like in terms of daily life, politics, and trying to improve living standards. At the Bryan School, we open these doors to our students to give them opportunities to share their talents and education.”
Before he came to the US 20 years ago, Kshetri worked with Agricultural Development Bank of Nepal, Food and Agriculture Organization and German Technical Cooperation to help poor farmers in Nepal. Today, his work includes what he shares at the UN event, plus finding other ways for poor people to benefit from technology. For example, helping farmers take advantage of technology (such as weather applications, crop production, soil quality) to increase productivity.
He is part of a team of UN researchers to help developing countries improve the quality of life of citizens.
“A lot of people worldwide are poor – they don’t have anything. The gateway for them to improve their quality of life is using modern technologies. Many people don’t know about this – but when they learn about the opportunity to include technology in their lives, they become excited. I feel so fortunate to be able to work with UN agencies and publish articles around the world about how modern technology can be used to improve lives, if developed in a proper way.”
Kshetri has published more than 100 articles in nationally, and globally, on these topics.
Story by Susan Poulos
Photos provided by Dr. Kshetri