Financial inclusion, the goal of making financial services available and affordable to those underserved and members of society making a lower income, is not a new idea. Now, however, with the development of financial technology (FinTech), inclusion seems more possible than ever.
Thanks to FinTech, more people and companies (especially small businesses) have access to a wide range of quality financial services. This will bring us to broader financial inclusion.
As new tools and technology are developed, FinTech can provide services with greater speed, accountability, and efficiency. Not only can FinTech make financial products and services more accessible, it can also make them more affordable by lowering the cost of doing business. This will benefit consumers who live in rural locations or regions without the infrastructure of urban cities; some FinTech services only require a working Internet connection to function. In other words, FinTech holds boundless potential in the context of financial inclusion.
Serving the unbanked
The “unbanked” refers to people with no access to formal banking or financial institution services. They don’t have bank accounts; they don’t apply for personal or business financing. They use cash for everyday transactions. And according to the World Bank, the number of unbanked reached two billion adults in 2015.
One of the areas where FinTech can help is access to credit. In most developing countries, where the vast majority of the population is unbanked, it is a challenge for people to get financing. For people who have never dealt with financial institutions before, the products offered can be incompatible with the needs of smaller businesses or individuals. FinTech, on the other hand, uses alternative data sources layered on top of traditional data to determine whether an applicant is creditworthy or not. This can include social media data from Facebook and LinkedIn to verify one’s identity.
Mobile technology is thriving
In this digital era, people rely more and more on their smartphones. It’s no surprise that this year, global mobile penetration reached 64.5% and is likely to drive financial literacy as well as inclusion. Thanks to mobile technology and cellular networks, access to financial products and services is becoming more attainable. Now people can send money around the world via mobile phones. FinTech also provides security of digital payments by allowing merchants to accept payment from mobile money sources.
Financial inclusion through FinTech is not only possible, but it’s also a huge market. FinTech advancements are vital to achieving full financial inclusion. Thanks to the internet and advanced digital technology, financial services are now affordable for any members of society.
For a more in-depth read on how FinTech will shape the future of inclusion, click here.
This article was written by Funding Societies, the first debt investment and SME digital financing to launch in Malaysia. We provide working capital financing for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), along with attractive investment opportunities to the broader public. To learn more about us, click on our website here.