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Sierra Leone’s Thumbprint Breakthrough to Sign up Unbanked

Sierra Leoneans will be able to sign up for bank accounts with a press of their thumbs, thanks to a blockchain-based financial inclusion program that could serve as a model for countries with large unbanked populations across the developing world.

The Kiva Protocol, launched on Wednesday by the Sierra Leonean government and Kiva, the Silicon Valley microloan company, is a biometric system that links a person’s thumbprint with their identity. It will allow the west African country to create a universal credit bureau for the first time, with its backers hoping it will spur lending by banks reluctant to loan to people without credit histories.