Financial services companies are increasingly finding new ways to leverage the power of technology to educate customers on financial matters and help drive greater socio-economic inclusion.
Much of this is as simple as downloading an app on your smartphone where you can now do everything from transferring money, checking the exchange rate or the stock market, or even shopping around for the best insurance. Financial advice is also just a mouse-click away, especially with the advent of robo-advisors, algorithm-driven financial planning services available online with little to no human intervention.
Technology provides a way for financial services firms to leverage their deep institutional knowledge to boost financial inclusion by utilising the massive reach enabled by FinTech solutions to learn more about customers and provide new solutions to traditional problems at lower cost.
Financial services organisation are also using tablets and mobile devices to sign up new customers, a solution that is particularly helpful in remote, underdeveloped areas. Money transfer is another thing that has benefitted from technology. Just look at Kenya’s M-Pesa, which started off as a way for people to send remittances to family members in distant locations, but has since expanded into payments and microfinancing.
One of the more innovative examples of how banks are using technology to boost access to education comes from Feenix, a crowd funding initiative that provides a platform for students to list themselves and request finance from either individuals or enterprises. The Standard Bank-funded initiative allocates 75% of its funding to black applicants, with at least 50% channelled to females.
As part of its drive to boost its appeal to the youth market, which places a high degree of value on financial services being accessible at all times, Standard Bank has also partnered with technology companies to develop digital wallets, apps and mobile payment systems.
While FinTech has exploded with a host of new entrants into the digital payments and money transfer space, it is clear that traditional financial institutions are not being complacent in seeking innovative new ways to boost financial inclusion.