06 December 2016
Vinod Sharma

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Vinod Sharma - Econet Wireless Zimbabwe

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Financial Inclusion

The financial services industry has much to contribute to the UN and World Bank goal of full financial inclusion by 2020. This group will focus on industry contributions, ideas, barriers and enablers.

FinClusion to Balance Gender Gap

29 November 2016  |  2352 views  |  0

Abstract – Focus around financial inclusion or in my language “Finclusion”. In a recent study it was discovered half of the world’s population, lag behind in access and usage of financial products and services. While significant advances in financial inclusion for both men and women occurred between 2011 and 2014, the gender gap still persists at large. Simple meaning of “Finclusion” is provisioning, providing and making affordable financial services available for every human being and treated as basic human right. Sounds very easy right; but sadly it is not that easy. The questions which keep emerging in my mind are; Will rising innovations in mobile money domain help to close the financial gender gap? or/and will it help to help women in particular who are more vulnerable to increased financial burdens, like the ones that arise when sick-minded men abandon their responsibilities of providing basics needs for their families. The problem is compounded by largely close-minded, oppressive societies that bar women from owning land, properties or even allow them to save for their future and their children etc. The question stands where do these people go to claim their basic right that have been left behind by communities, segments and formal financial institutions?

Introduction – Every second person from the African population lives without access to financial services. These “unbanked” people are forced to use cash despite the very real risk of being robbed while carrying it. This is a serious issue according to a recent survey done by Vinod Sharma and colleagues by interviewing a sample of the women population with regards to mobile money usage in Sub-Saharan and East Africa. Our motive was to create awareness as “I am with FinClusion to achieve my basic human right” Are You?. Efforts to bring large portions of the financially excluded population into the folds of financial inclusion in order to generate sustainable economic growth are in progress, issues such as the high cost of banking with banks, huge piles of KYC document requirements, additional money required for international transfer, long distances to banks, lengthy queues, processing time, and high service charges are among the barriers to gaining access to financial services for the unbanked.

Main Story – Our main issue is the ability to drive “Gender inclusion” through Finclusion under the ownership of savings, land or/and micro insurance such as funeral, education and medical services where women in African homes play a very important role, by allowing women access to financial services and to benefit fully from economic opportunities. The confidence placed in by Finclusion providers and users alike is a powerful driver for the business. Mobile Money essentially was meant for financial inclusion or simply called as Finclusion. The value proposition of women’s financial inclusion with clear objectives and quantitative targets can lead to transparent inclusive policies for women; which can greatly impact the advancement of financial inclusion for women and in turn help accelerate the progress of national strategies. With the different platforms and competencies that exists within FinTech which has the ability of blending data together is helpful. Will rising innovations in mobile money domain help to close the financial gender gap is yet to be answered.

Nigeria & South Africa is better in terms of women getting rights on what they deserve than DRC or Kenya different. This phenomena can be compared with almost all advertisement depicting a clock standing still in one place such as ten minutes past to ten as its most appealing to human minds. Giving best and large enough space for advertisements to be displayed clearly if forty minutes past four is chosen will also give the same scope but does not appeal well. So the requirement is what are the needs now, not a backward mindset. Financial inclusion simply is defined as “Ensuring access to basic banking services (Provided by any bank’s banking services or MNO’s mobile money services)”. The definition continues, that it is also expected from Finclusion Service Provider to ensure that consumers have a legal right of access to a basic bank/wallet account, comply with minimum performance standards and treat customers fairly through functionality, charges, transparency and compliance.

What are the major new areas of challenges for bringing the quality of life for women with help of driving FinClusion? Clearly a huge investment is required by NGO’s or non profit foundations on educating the societies to correct their mindset, educating individuals to adopt financial services specifically women. While significant progress has been made in terms of facilitating greater access to and use of financial services among previously underserved populations, barriers to financial inclusion remain. A gender-gap polarized environment impacts on performance due to denial of services to women, although there has been a large female youth segment have demonstrated an increased appetite towards new products and services in line with global trends. Financial services have the ability to provide access to micro credit, micro insurance, cross border remittances, as well as education on savings, which explains clear benefits such as financial inclusion and ripple advantages such as access to clean drinking water, clean toilets, education, medical services, funeral services and energy services.

Financial institutions who are making constant efforts to ensure that they provide financial service to everyone at an affordable rate and with minimal KYC needs and has the support from government, NGO’s, foundations and regulators. Money transfers, payments, international remittances, savings, micro credit and micro insurance services (Medical, Funeral & Education) should be at the top of the priority list on all developing countries government agenda’s.  Mobile Money services from MNO and FinTech companies are pushing this with the help of concept “BaaS- Banking as a Service” on “BaaP – Banking as a Platform” and not treating it as luxury item should be seen as a noble effort and worthy of mention. Non Bank (Now few Banks) are acting proactively not just to increase financial inclusion but also working towards reducing dependence of monetary under-privileged borrowers on various informal sources of credit that are helpful and lifesaving. The enthusiastic demand for financial services can be driven in a northward direction with great speed to push the boundaries of inclusion ever further provided education of same is delivered with same speed.

The key stakeholders which includes financial service providers, regulatory bodies, policymakers, civil society entities, and consumers, explore how best to engage prospective women customers in ways that meet the needs of both consumers and providers situated within different market contexts. Financial inclusion is important for improving the living conditions of underprivileged farmers especially female farmers, small business holders (tuck shops) and other vulnerable groups. Financial exclusion, in terms of lack of access to credit from formal institutions, this is high for small and marginal farmers and some social groups. Apart from formal banking institutions, which should look at inclusion both as a business opportunity and social responsibility, the role of the self-help group movement and microfinance institutions is important to improve financial inclusion. This requires new regulatory procedures and politicisation of the financial system though Kenya which is ahead of this particular game.

Finclusion’s gender gap, which refers to the disproportionate exclusion of women from access to and usage of formal financial services, is quite intense especially in Asia and Africa. As they have a crucial role to play in supporting the development of financial systems that advance financial inclusion for women in Africa. Banks Need to Think Collaboration Rather Than Competition. Investments by banks, fintechs and crowd funders helps financial segments & sector to put risk off the disruption. What trends are expected to drive frantic innovation in 2017 both globally and in Africa? Digital delivery of financial services will continue to play a major role in bridging the financial inclusion gap in Africa but along with the potential benefits calm challenges such as lack of collaboration and deliberated efforts to stop such excellent & genuine efforts will come but eventually gets crushed.

Conclusion – Dalai Lama noted “It’s been proven and shown that even infants who are too young to talk can distinguish between illustrations of harmful and helpful behaviour and respond positively to help and negatively to harm. They conclude that basic human nature is compassionate. And this gives us hope”. Equal access to and control over economic resources by men and women is a necessary condition to achieve gender equality. Some of you may argue that it is a mere feminist demand but really economic empowerment of women is an essential condition towards sustainable economic growth and development. Even though the gender gap is huge but it is rarely on the agenda explicitly in the African countries policy sphere, there is room for much greater focus on women’s financial inclusion on a whole range of policy issues. Policymakers need to avail themselves of data, quantitative and qualitative surveys and further research to understand the market being served and the constraints, and thereby to inform policy.

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job title CTO - FinTech Domain
location Harare
member since 2016
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Currently holds senior role in a MNO in the FinTech, IT, BSS and Mobile financial services space. In past he helped the founding and set-up of several start-up business units & department. He is curre...

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