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Bill and Melinda Gates in Tanzania. (Photo Credit: Gates Notes)
Bill and Melinda Gates in Tanzania. (Photo Credit: Gates Notes)

Fifteen years after starting their foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates released their 2015 annual letter overnight, laying out their goals for the next 15 years and explaining their “big bet” — that “the lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history.”

And one of the primary catalysts, they say, will be the smartphone. They point in particular to the spread of mobile banking and education.

“Already, in the developing countries with the right regulatory framework, people are storing money digitally on their phones and using their phones to make purchases, as if they were debit cards,” they write. “By 2030, 2 billion people who don’t have a bank account today will be storing money and making payment with their phones. And by then, mobile money providers will be offering the full range of financial services, from interest-bearing savings accounts to credit to insurance.”

Here is Bill Gates explaining the issue in a video.

On the topic of education, they write, “As high-speed cell networks grow and smartphones become as cheap as today’s voice-only phones, online education will flourish. For people in rich countries, it will be an important step forward. For the rest of the world, especially in places where growth is creating demand for educated workers, it will be a revolution.”

Those are just two of the global trends identified in the letter, which also covers revolutions in health and farming, and concludes with a call for readers to become “global citizens.” Read the full letter, with a series of interactive features and videos, on the Gates Notes site.

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