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From Literacy to Financial Inclusion – How Technology Accelerated the Transition to Inclusion

 

Lack of financial inclusion and access to banking and digital services are not just limited to emerging economies. Across the globe, we have seen a strong correlation between improved standards of living and access to financial literacy representing a major economic and social opportunity. Creating access to financial inclusion and digital literacy for the unbanked and marginalized communities can go a long way in creating employment, increasing household income and building assets, as well as reducing vulnerability of marginalized groups. 

On Sept 16, 2021, we heard from experts who explored the crucial role of financial literacy and inclusion, the role of technology in enabling access and the transformational impact that financial services and technology organizations are creating to accelerate the journey towards this social impact goal.  

Over 270 people joined an engaging discussion with speakers; Anupam Singhal, Senior Vice President and Industry Solutions Unit Head, TCS; Rachael Gazdick, CEO New York Edge; Kim-An Hernandez, Principal, Head of IT Global Resource Strategy and Controls, Vanguard; David Adams, Chief Innovative Officer, University of Cincinnati; Gigi Gatti, Director, Technology for Development, Grameen Foundation.

Five key aspects emerged from the discussions:

  • Bridging the gap between inclusion and financial literacy allows the underserved and marginalized communities access to the opportunities and empowers individuals and communities, while also having a cascading effect across generations. Increased literacy increases food security, reduces crime rates and increase healthcare.
  • Bridging the digital divide is essential to widen financial services and build financial inclusion. It’s important to develop rich financial literacy programs for children, encouraging change in financial behavior to break away from living paycheck to paycheck. Children can be taught fiscal responsibility by offering them the right tools to develop saving as a habit, understand credit scores and its impact, ways to save safely and real-world experience through financial apprenticeship programs.
  • Gamification of financial tools can facilitate inclusion and introduce young people, especially school students, to financial possibilities. The knowledge that the children acquire can even create a diverse talent pipeline to business, offering numerous kinds of opportunities, inspiring minds at an early age. Sustainability is a critical aspect to be able to grow programs and help underserved communities. Programs like TCS’ goIT program, which is a STEM education initiative that TCS offers pro-bono to high school students and consists of in-school IT career and awareness workshops, and hands-on technology education are essential for supporting local school communities, bringing in digital literacy and enabling financial literacy at a young age.
  • Cross sector partnerships are essential for creating investors of tomorrow. With partnerships across the globe, financial institutions in the private sector can offer products like low fee credit card for the financially-disadvantaged. Private sector organisations can help create tools for financial institutions that can support people outside of the banking systems. Financial inclusion has risen globally, accelerated by mobile phones and the internet, but just having a bank account does not mean that a person is financially included. People need to have access to technology-based tool to help increase financial literacy.
  • Social transformation is required to ensure financial inclusion. Digital technologies have played an essential role in augmenting innovation in numerous fields, accelerating the journey towards financial literacy and enhancing livelihoods.

To learn more about the Digital Empowers program, read our Global Insights Report, Digital Empowers: Technology as a Catalyst for Empowering Communities

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