The UC Berkeley Lab for Inclusive FinTech (LIFT) is a research partnership aiming at unlocking the potential of digital financial technologies to benefit underserved populations around the world.

Our Approach

LIFT has three major thrusts: research, experiential learning, and community building. LIFT links academic researchers with industry partners and policymakers to reimagine the design and reach of digital financial services to build a healthy, inclusive, and sustainable digital economy.

Research & Innovation

LIFT’s portfolio of rigorous research will inform and inspire innovation in fintech and financial services for unbanked and vulnerable populations. LIFT functions as a real-world lab. It combines evaluation and frontier research with fintech, big data, and AI. By forging partnerships with industry, NGOs, and policy makers, LIFT plays a role in the formulation of bottom-up questions and solutions.

Experiential Learning

LIFT will equip and inspire UC Berkeley students to contribute to the next wave of inclusive innovation and research, and pursue careers as fintech researchers, regulators, and industry leaders. The Blum Center will launch student engagement and training activities, including undergraduate and masters’ level curriculum, while expanding the Blum Center’s student innovation ecosystem with a focus on digital financial inclusion.

Community & Field Building

Community & Field Building

LIFT will build a research network and community of practice around fintech and financial inclusion. By convening academic researchers, industry partners, and government policymakers with common interests, LIFT will guide the prioritization of research questions, identify and foster collaborations, and share insights and best practices as evidence is generated on the impacts of technologies expanding into new markets.

Our Motivation

LIFT aims to improve the design, reach, and efficacy of digital financial services and financial technologies. The goal is to accelerate the financial inclusion and wellbeing of underserved communities in emerging and advanced markets.

The 2017 Global Findex estimated 1.7 billion individuals lack access to formal financial services. Recent fintech innovation leverages blockchain, cryptocurrencies, digital transactions, and data in ways that show potential to provide more secure, accessible, and impactful services.

Fintech products are rapidly revolutionizing the global financial ecosystem, yet research to assess their impacts has not kept pace with innovation. Research and evaluation will play a critical role in ensuring that technological advances reach and benefit users, particularly vulnerable and traditionally excluded populations.

Image credits: Demand for Education in Kenya Project by Stephanie Bonds
ICWE GmbH, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons