Whilst Asia are busy discovering microfinance, it seems over here in the West we are adding a new branche to microfinance, micro-investing. Initially that seems to have centered around crowdfunding.
More recently the Bitcoin corner are adding a new form of micro-investing.
Venture capital being scarce in the recession, the branche being rather young, fast maturing since the december 2013 bitcoin price spike, and the coin business being a pure internet branche, has inspired a number of companies to get their venture capital from the customers.
The coins business is rather low threshold. Added to that, transaction cost are far lower than traditional investing.
You can start investing on the exchanges with a dime and buy shares in transaction-fees, that in turn helps the site owners develop the exchange. In the mining business you can invest in mining from $5,- upwards. The mining operations developed cloud interfaces where you do not have to bother with settings and machines, you can just buy a share in the operation with the newer sites offering a marketplace for these shares, so you can always cash out any time you want. Returns in mining are often between 0.3% and 0.7% per day, with daily payouts, rather risk free. Another example is the Ethereum project which financed its operations with an initial coin release and collected something like 10 million dollars.
One strong advantage of coins, where bearer bonds are not allowed in traditional investment, no such regulation exists for coins. More recent coin launches are experimenting with that, like Supernet Unity, Bleutrade shares, Bter securities.
All in all, where Bitcoin seem to focus on the role of bitcoin as currency, to my opinion it (or sooner a number of alt-coins) may have a bigger future in micro-investment.