Technology As a Means to Drive Financial Inclusion and DiversityBy Sergio Jiménez | Wed, 05/04/2022 - 13:00
Technology has become a great ally for us as entrepreneurs to develop accessible, useful, and easy-to-use financial products. These products are created for a group of people who have been alienated from such tools and we want to empower them with the ability to better leverage their money.
Financial inclusion helps measure how countries or regions are doing in economic terms and social development. In Mexico and Latin America, the metrics we face are incredibly low compared to other regions of the world, such as the US, Canada, and some areas of Asia and Europe.
According to the World Bank, 65 percent of adults in Mexico do not have a bank account, and only 10 percent save money via a financial institution, while 83 percent of Mexican adults do not have access to any form of electronic payment.
Although the numbers may be shocking, it is not all bad news, because this creates opportunities to find solutions to improve people’s lives and the socioeconomic conditions of countries. Newer financial startups are becoming aware that in those gaps, a niche exists that inspires us to implement technology, innovation, knowledge, and a problem-solving focus to change the status quo.
In addition to the low levels of financial inclusion, there are other pending issues in the region, such as equal access to the financial system. Despite the efforts of entrepreneurs in recent years, this situation still shows a general trend favoring men, mainly due to existing systemic oppression that prevents equal access for women.
Bringing a gender perspective to the new financial solutions will result in alternatives that uniquely address the aforementioned problems, as well as increasing women's ability to obtain financial independence, making better decisions for their growth, and deciding on their future.
These technological advances have allowed a more open market and greater access to new financial products, giving people who were distant from this market an opportunity to participate. The entry of new players will facilitate and improve the economic outlook in all respects, creating more and more services that meet the needs of current and future generations.
For instance, at Flink, we have worked to create a platform that promotes inclusion and diversity, where all users are addressed equitably. This approach has led to 48 percent of our clients being women, a share that was previously unheard of.
Developing tools that are within reach, and that make it easier for people, who due to their socioeconomic status have been prevented from entering the financial system, is a huge step forward that can be taken in all regions of the world.
To give an example of the potential reach of these new platforms: in Mexico, according to The Competitive Intelligence Unit (CIU), by the end of 2021, there were more than 120 million smartphones in the country. Just imagine what it would be like if every person with a smartphone had financial apps that catered to their needs?
So far, so good, but it is not enough to only create intuitive, secure, and easy-to-access tools; another critical issue is financial education, which all new companies should address if we want to revolutionize the system. Addressing this will be up to us because educating users gives them the tools to use technology, giving it a greater impact.
The three challenges I have mentioned: financial inclusion, unfamiliarity with financial systems, and access to the world of money; create opportunities that can be addressed with the help of technology to expand services to segments of the population that have been, until now, left behind.