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GSMA sets up lab for innovative tech solutions

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The GSM Association (GSMA) has launched the GSMA Inclusive Tech Lab, aimed at conducting research, testing and development of innovative technologies of the future.

The GSMA is a trade body that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting more than 750 operators and nearly 400 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem.

The primary services of the new lab will be three-fold: conceptualisation of innovation projects, research, and technological assets, says GSMA.

Based at the GSMA headquarters in London, the lab will work on a range of areas that drive inclusion. These will comprise expanding the openness and interoperability of payment systems, service accessibility for women and vulnerable populations, and digital identities for unregistered people, as well as other topics of relevance.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has provided three years of funding for the lab and will sit on the Advisory Group alongside industry representatives which include GoPay, IDEMIA, KaiOS, Mowali, Telenor, University of Washington and Vodafone.

The lab will also benefit from guidance received from global stakeholders, who will help to assess, prioritise, shape and contribute towards potential project ideas received by the lab.

“In launching the GSMA Inclusive Tech Lab, we are taking a bold new step to support and stimulate innovation through greater experimentation and a willingness to take risks,” explains John Giusti, chief regulatory officer of GSMA.

“The GSMA Mobile for Development programme has already had a direct impact on improving the lives of 58 million people. The lab 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.”

The GSMA Mobile for Developmentprogramme brings together GSMA members, the wider mobile industry and the development community to bring life-enhancing mobile services in emerging markets.

Following direction from the GSMA Tech Lab Advisory Group, projects deemed feasible will be further researched and developed, notes the GSMA.

The lab will build readily usable products and insights up to proof-of-concept (and potentially support an initial commercial launch, as appropriate). Critically, the lab will also ensure learnings and lab-developed solutions will be available to the broader industry, with the first results available to the industry in the first quarter of 2020, according to the GSMA.

“We are proud to be collaborating with the GSMA and funding the Inclusive Tech Lab to strategise, build and pilot technologies to support the industry with innovations to drive financial inclusion for the poorest,” says Matt Bohan, senior programme officer, financial services for the poor at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“The lab will enable us to create and explore products, from interoperability platforms to standardised application programming interfaces and more, that will help the industry to drive innovation to include poor people at a whole new pace and scale.”

The GSMA says, together with industry stakeholders, it will establish and share proofs of concept aimed at increasing financial and digital inclusion for underserved groups.

“Today there are challenges of expanding access to financial services, bridging the digital services gap for women and vulnerable user groups, and providing digital identity solutions for the one billion individuals with no form of ID. These challenges drive our activity as we work on the transformative digital innovations of tomorrow,” concludes Giusti.

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