The centralized for-profit banking system is a driving force in the continued and stratification of American economic classes (1) . In response to this reality, Professor Erich Schumann and a team of Brandeis International Business School students banded together to create a blockchain-based banking app designed specifically for those whom the traditional banking system had left behind (2). The project would evolve into Fincludio, a name combining the terms “finance” and “include.” To honor this intention, this blockchain-based project squarely places the user at the center of all decision making and control. As of publication, the platform is in beta testing and not yet available via the Apple or Android App Store.
Fincludio’s user-centric platform is built off the precepts of blockchain and digital security which first starts by prompting users to identify which services they are interested in, and then asking which banks they’d like to receive those services from. The user then inputs their information to the secure digital wallet, which is stored in a smart device, and Fincludio then transmits only legally required information to the user’s selected bank. Because the user is the holder and controller of their own information only, they can permit third parties (such as banks) to access their information and only to the extent necessary to actually effectuate their intended purpose. Thus, this decentralized model allows for the user to be the ultimate arbiter of their digital information and financial wellbeing.
This project represents an opportunity to serve unbanked households across the nation. Schumann noted that part of the motivation for creating the platform is that it “is expensive to verify customer identities using traditional technology in accordance with state and federal laws, which lend an advantage to larger banks with better systems and more resources (3).” The team’s hope is that blockchain-based projects like Fincludio will even the playing field as more services are offered online. In this way, Fincludio is using blockchain to provide not only an opportunity for unbanked individuals and households to be better served, but is also protecting the value of competition in an increasingly globalized financial system.
1 | Paola Boel, Peter Zimmerman, Unbanked in America: A Review of the Literature, Economic Commentary, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleavland, May 26, 2022. DOI: 10.26509/frbc-ec-202207
2 | Douglas Moser, Leveraging Blockchain to Reach the ‘Unbanked’,Brandeis International Business School, August 8, 2022, https://www.brandeis.edu/global/news/2022/blockchain1.html
3 | Id.