Payphone Bank, Tigo-Une, Columbia

Out of a total population of 46 Million, a staggering number of 8 Million Colombians do not have any bank accounts. They earn less than 3 dollars a day, mostly in coins, by selling small things like drinks and food on the street. They cannot afford to have bank accounts, which creates a vicious cycle of no credit history, higher exposure to robbery and difficulty of escaping poverty, since they are unable to get loans.

Tigo-Une turned 13,000 cast iron pay phones from the turn of the century into a micro-savings system for the poorest in Colombia. Now they can go to a Une store to activate an account, then deposit their earnings, which are mostly coins, into the public phone and their own microsavings account. That account can be used to pay utility bills, buy public transit tickets, and even get microloans at stores to buy basic appliances like a refrigerator.

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Payphone Bank,  Tigo-Une, Columbia