Women’s financial inclusion in digitally based financial services
Digitally-based financial services are technological inventions which can be leveraged upon to serve the financial needs of the rural people. Having access to modern phones can make banking easier without having to be physically present at the bank. Services like online transfers, mobile and internet banking services can be done on the phone to enhance the smooth running of businesses.
In Nigeria, digital literacy and the use of digitally-based financial services among women is still low especially among the rural and un-banked women. Reasons for this include illiteracy, high cost of mobile devices and data subscription, computer/internet-phobia and lack of infrastructure.
Taiwo, a tailor and micro-entrepreneur in Abuja, Nigeria was introduced to digitally-based financial services by her account officer at the micro-finance bank she uses. Seeing the advantages of DBFS, she asked to be trained in the basic skills of digital literacy and she has been using it to improve her business. From searching for trending designs and how to make them, connecting to customers and other people in the fashion industry, accessing her saving account, sending money to her suppliers in the comfort of her shop via online transfers to being a mobile money agent for a leading financial institution, Taiwo says digital literacy and access to digitally based financial services has increased her income and expanded her business.
She can also track her financial flows reducing in safer and faster transactions. Direct deposits into her account makes her save more as her propensity to spend is reduced when she has less cash at hand. Her business is expanding as more people now patronize her for either tailoring or mobile money services.
More efforts should be geared towards taking mobile communications and digital payment systems to the rural women to expand the availability of affordable and reliable financial tools that serve their personal and business needs. Services like mobile money and local money transfers should be taken to rural areas. Digital infrastructure such as Automated Teller Machines and cards, Point Of Sale (POS) terminals should also be deployed to businesses to increase digital finance inclusion in rural women.
Financial institutions should aim at developing digital financial products and services that will be easy to use for less educated people. Selection, training and management of agent networks can also be leveraged upon to bring Digitally Based Financial Services to women in developing countries.