And, perhaps most urgently, how can society help all those people the markets have left behind?”
― Abhijit V. Banerjee, Good Economics for Hard Times: Better Answers to Our Biggest Problems
The CoVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a health epidemic and an economic recession later for nothing trumps the health and well being of the global population. However, for many that are not already infected, this epidemic has manifested itself as an economic problem before being a health issue. These are employees, restaurateurs, small business owners, street merchants, vendors and entrepreneurs who have lost their ability to earn a livelihood. In India, the lockdown has meant loss of livelihood and a health crisis for millions of migrant workers who continue to travel hundreds of kilometers to go back to their home town. The situation, as The Economist calls it, is a ‘grim calculus’. It is heartening to note that philanthropy has surged. However, a more direct financial intervention through inclusion is a better ideal.
The US government has approved a $2 Trillion stimulus program-the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) act to help the ones affected financially. This package includes a $377 billion stimulus for small businesses. FoMany in the government have also realized the value of a digital Dollar (currency) that can be directly deposited into a beneficiary’s bank account — precisely what Bitcoin and crypto currency evangelists touted as the advantage of crypto currencies rolled out on a Blockchain albeit with a minor difference (in case of the digital Dollar, the beneficiary is not anonymous).
To me, this seems like a step towards financial inclusion. That is because financial inclusion doesnt mean counting the number of people that don’t have a bank account but also the quality of access to fimancial services to those that have a bank account (equal access to tailored and affordable financial products).