BBC Future

60 Second Idea

‘Give a personalised-saving coin to every child’

Each week a global thinker from the worlds of philosophy, science, psychology or the arts is given a minute to put forward a radical, inspiring or controversial idea – no matter how improbable – that they believe would change the world.

This week Oxford University anthropologist Catherine Dolan proposes a hi-tech solution to tackle debt and financial exclusion.

“My ideas if for a barcoded, payback savings coin.

Every child born in the world will be given a payback savings coin worth one dollar with a barcode and a sample of the child’s DNA embedded in it.

The coin is currency and a child can choose to spend it or save it. If the child saves it until he or she is 18 they would be able to automatically exchange it for a working bank account, identified by the barcode. The bank account would hold all the interest that accrued on the child’s dollar since birth and the child would be the only one authorised to withdraw the money.

Importantly, the scheme would be funded by the fines levied against banks involved in unscrupulous practices, whose name would be imprinted on the each coin.

This plan has at least three benefits.

One, it would teach all children the benefits of saving and remove the barriers that the poorest everywhere face because they can’t open a bank account.

Two, it would provide women who are often economically marginalised with their own source of income.

And three, it would serve as a powerful reminder to financial institutions that ethics count.”

You can listen to Catherine discuss her idea with angel investor Sherry Coutu and leading coffee entrepreneur Andrew Rugmore on the BBC World Service programme The Forum, where you can also download more 60-second ideas.

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