Currently more than 2 billion adults worldwide — mostly poor and disproportionately women — lack access to formal financial services. A myriad of factors contribute to this problem including cost and geography among others. This poor access adversely affects education, health and housing, diminishing the quality of life and opportunity for growth and development. With growing momentum, we are seeing an opportunity for digital solutions to address this financial inclusion gap.
I recently began my journey as an Anthemis Fellow, driven by a passion to improve financial access and philanthropy using the transformative power of technology. For this year’s Financial Inclusion Week, I hosted a focused lunch discussion in London with Anthemis to explore the theme of financial inclusion in a digitally enabled world and share experiences and opportunities within our own work.
Undoubtedly, technology is leveling the playing field when it comes to accessing financial services. Key enablers thus far include the ubiquity of mobile phones, increased internet access, growing commitment from government, regulators and policy makers to inclusive offerings and innovation, innovations in digital ID solutions and an increasing amount of data to help us better understand the issues and create appropriate solutions.
Momentum is moving in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go. Startup companies from all corners of the globe are effectively challenging the status quo. A notable example of progress within this space from Anthemis’ portfolio is JUMO. JUMO is a platform that provides transaction and predictive technology for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and banks helping them to expand their mobile money offerings to individuals and small businesses. With a focus on the African market, their platform creates a data-driven marketplace, allowing more customers to be served and reducing risk for the providers.
Of course, the opportunity for more inclusive financial services is not limited to developing markets. In 2014, an independent commission was formed in the UK to address financial exclusion in the country and their research found that nearly 2 million adults in the UK were outside the banking system. Exponential Ventures, the newly formed disruptive innovation and venture capital arm of MMI Holdings (MMI), and Anthemis are exploring this through the theme of financial wellness. Financial wellness is defined as a continuous process of financial planning, management and behaviour adjustment in order to reach your goals. By supporting companies that improve the financial wellness of individuals and SMEs, investors can help to create a more inclusive and sustainable global economy.
Accessible, affordable and responsible finance should be within everyone’s reach and technology — when incorporated into solutions designed with the customer at the core — is a great enabler.
View the presentation on SlideShare.