The ideal financial customer is not who you think. First, she lives on about two dollars a day. Second, she lives in rural Africa, the Middle East, South Asia or Latin America. Finally, she’s never owned a financial account of her own.

What’s ideal about all that? Growth. And digital technology is the key to driving it. Read more

As the former minister of telecommunications in the Lebanese government, no one knows better than I that Lebanon faces intense pressures. The terrible human toll from Syria’s five-year civil war has at times threatened to overwhelm our small country. The influx of refugees is on a scale with which few countries could cope. One million Syrian asylum-seekers were received last year by the entire European Union, with a population of 500m. This is fewer than the number of Syrians accepted by Lebanon alone, with a population of just 5m.

Lebanon successfully braved the 2007-08 economic crisis, with stunning growth of around 8.5 per cent. Prudent financial regulation – including banning subprime lending – protected it from the worst of the storms. Now the fallout from its regional neighbours has once again put a strain on the economy. Read more

This weekend Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, came to Silicon Valley to promote his Digital India initiative. His trip signals that the Indian government sees technology as critical to delivering on its development goals. One example is a programme called Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), which Modi launched to ensure that all Indian citizens have access to financial services.

In the last year, the government has opened 175m bank accounts under the scheme, with deposits totalling more than $3.4bn. This progress is already a triumph of technology. Read more

By John Calverley, Standard Chartered

Around the world, governments are jostling to be at the forefront of new technologies. Policies range from tax breaks, research grants, and science parks to subsidising innovative start-ups and favouring domestic firms when buying technology.

Some of this is undoubtedly helpful in driving technological development. However, adoption, not invention, is the main driver of economic growth in most countries. Read more

How do you like your smartphones and tablets? Light or large? Black or white? For most consumers in emerging markets the question is: cheap or cheaper?

This is the market manufacturers should be focusing on, according to a new report by Gartner, a technology research company, which estimates that no less than 78 per cent of global smartphone sales will come from developing economies by 2018. Read more

If there’s one subject on which policymakers around the world seem to agree, it’s that foreign direct investment is a Good Thing.

The annual tables of inward foreign direct investment (FDI) are treated by governments of rich and poor economies alike much as football fans treat rankings in the English Premier League, crowed over by countries in the leading pack and quietly forgotten by those in the relegation zone.

There is no doubt that FDI can do a lot of good: it can add to an economy’s productive capacity and import not just capital but technology, production skills and better management. China, which not only welcomed FDI but witnessed intense competition between different provinces to attract it, stands as a shining example. Read more

On Friday Indian companies will begin posting their results for the quarter ended in September – the first full three-month period under the country’s new, pro-business government.

The latest macroeconomic indicators suggest the economy has picked up following this year’s general election, growing at 5.7 per cent in the three months to June. But if analyst forecasts are anything to go by, only some sectors have received a boost from renewed optimism in India. Read more

Scientists are looking to a tiny variety of killer wasp to spare Indonesia from the ravages of a bug that is threatening the key cassava crop in south-east Asia’s biggest economy.

Since it arrived in Indonesia in 2010, the cassava mealybug – a small white insect that feeds on plants – had spread to the country’s main growing regions for cassava, which is a staple for tens of millions of people and generates around $1bn a year from industrial production. Read more

As rumours swirl about the design of Apple’s iPhone 6 ahead of its hotly anticipated debut next week, economists have made some more hard-headed – but no less remarkable – predictions about its impact.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research has estimated that the “expected large scale” of sales of the iPhone 6 will push up GDP in Taiwan by 40 basis points this year, add 1 percentage point a month to China’s export growth for the rest of 2014 and boost Taiwan’s export growth by around 2 percentage points a month between August and October and then 1 percentage point a month until January 2015. Read more

It is like the return of a prodigal son. Infosys, the Indian IT group, hived off its “products, platforms and solutions” business this year into a wholly-owned but independent subsidiary known as EdgeVerve.

The unit was first formed two and a half years ago as part of the group’s efforts to move into higher value businesses. But that strategy – dubbed “Infosys 3.0″ – has taken a back seat in the past year as the focus shifted back to the traditional IT services that are bread and butter for Infosys. Now, as the parent group’s financial results improve and a new group chief executive arrives next month, this young but fast-growing subsidiary is poised to come back into the spotlight. Read more

By John Calverley, Standard Chartered

Concern over rising inequality has increased in recent years. While inequality has fallen between countries, as rapid economic growth has helped emerging economies catch up with the developed world, there seems little doubt that inequality within countries has risen for most.

Technology is just one factor at play – along with globalisation, taxation and reduced union power – but its effect on economies is a key to understanding how income gaps evolve over time. Read more

Even before the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) published its election manifesto and before India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, set out his plans for the country, there was something different about the winning campaign.

The 63 year-old candidate revolutionised electioneering in India which, until then, had relied on billboards, handouts and door-to-door appeals. Suddenly, a leading politician was active on social media, reaching out to the diaspora through Google Hangout sessions and reaching the far corners of the country with video links and holograms (pictured). Now, Modi plans to change his administration in much the same way. Read more

By Nick Davidov

The hallmark of the Ukraine crisis is uncertainty – we simply don’t know how it is going to develop. Normally, this would be a drain on confidence. But as the situation stands, investment remains strong, particularly in Russia’s tech sector. This is because Russian tech companies are fully integrated into the global economy – they don’t just sell products and services to western markets. Major players like virtualisation company Parallels Inc and security software firm Kaspersky are particularly strong in emerging markets. Read more

India ElectionsSome 3.6m internet users got an unexpected surprise to mark the Indian festival of Holi yesterday: a personalised Twitter message from aspirant Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The move was a neat gimmick, and part of a wider pattern in which Modi’s opposition BJP, in particular, have been making innovative use of social media as India’s poll battle plays out. Read more

It sounds improbable. Dogged by closed borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan, a narrow export base, pervasive monopolies and an over-reliance on remittances from abroad, Armenia’s economic future poses plenty of questions. Could one answer come in the shape of a tablet? Read more

The App Store has recently celebrated a milestone, achieving $10bn in app sales since its inception. Something certainly remarkable, but how far will this success stretch beyond the western world? With the western market reaching saturation, there are swathes of potential new customers in markets including Latin America, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa who are eager for mobile content.

But can Apple and other players emulate their success further afield? Read more

The Eike Batista yard sale is not over just yet, it seems.

Brazil’s former richest man is expected to conclude as early as this week the sale of his 33 per cent stake in the country’s treasured semiconductor venture, SIX Semicondutores. The buyer is Argentine billionaire Eduardo Eurnekian, head of the holding company Corporación América. Corporación América confirmed it was in the final stages of buying the stake after Eurnekian visited the site of the half-finished semiconductor plant in Brazil’s Minas Gerais state on Monday. Eike’s EBX group did not respond to requests for comment. Read more

The 10th in our series of guest posts on the outlook for 2014 is by Hans-Holger Albrecht of Millicom

It’s no secret that more and more telecoms firms have been looking to emerging markets as the frontier for growth. But what will be the market drivers in 2014 as companies look to expand? What trends will the industry’s savvy players look to exploit? Here are 10 trends for 2014 to watch out for. Read more

Dilma Rousseff

Dilma Rousseff

It has become one of Brazil’s longest-running soap operas, or ‘telenovelas’: where is the country going to buy its new fighter jets?

Brazil has been talking about refurbishing its air force for more than a decade now, flaunting around a contract for 36 fighter jets that is seen as one of the most coveted deals in the global defence industry. While the contract itself is estimated to be worth at least $4bn, maintenance and follow-on deals would be worth even more. Read more

Nokia, the Finnish telecoms group, asked the Delhi High Court on Thursday to release factory assets frozen by tax authorities this year, as it prepares to hand its mobile devices unit to Microsoft.

Back in September Microsoft announced plans to buy the loss-making business from cash-strapped Nokia for €5.4bn. But in India, the deal faces a small complication: a $321m tax dispute in which Nokia’s local assets were frozen. Bank accounts have subsequently been released but fixed assets – including a factory in Chennai – remain stuck in limbo. Read more