LIVE FROM MOBILE 360 DIGITAL SOCIETIES, KUALA LUMPUR: Mobile association the GSMA teamed with industry stakeholders to launch a technology lab designed to drive the development of new technologies by providing access to research and testing facilities.

The Inclusive Tech Lab received financial backing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for three years. Members of the foundation will sit on an advisory group alongside industry representatives including GoPay, IDEMIA, KaiOS, Mowali, Telenor, the University of Washington, Veon and Vodafone.

John Giusti, the GSMA’s chief regulatory officer, said it is “taking a bold new step to support and stimulate innovation through greater experimentation and a willingness to take risks”, noting the lab will allow its team “to take a hands-on approach to break down the barriers to economic and social inclusion”.

Matthew Bohan, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s senior programme officer covering Financial Services for the Poor, said the lab will enable it to create and explore products ranging from interoperability platforms to standardised APIs, which will help the industry extend innovation to poor people at a whole new pace and scale.

The GSMA held a launch event for the lab during its Mobile 360 Digital Societies event in Kuala Lumpur, featuring a conversation between Pepper, a robot developed by SoftBank, and the trade group’s APAC head Julian Gorman (pictured).

Services on offer will cover research, innovation projects and technological assets (for example web-based test environments), with the range of work geared towards expanding the openness and interoperability of payment systems; service accessibility for women and vulnerable populations; and digital identities for unregistered people.

Giusti added: “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 1 billion individuals with no form of ID. These challenges drive our activity as we work on the transformative digital innovations of tomorrow.”