Commonwealth and JPMorgan to assess how new tech will impact the financially vulnerable

Commonwealth and JPMorgan to assess how new tech will impact the financially vulnerable

Boston-based nonprofit Commonwealth is collaborating with JPMorgan on a two-year project to explore the impact of emerging technologies such as AI and Big Data on the lives of lower-income workers.

Under the programme, Commonwealth will research the emerging financial landscape for vulnerable people, examining usage patterns of new technologies with a focus on how they garner trust.

Emerging technology is already shaping the financial landscape, and Covid-19 has only accelerated its disruption, says the noprofit. Sixty-four percent of financial services executives expect to become mass adopters of AI and 77% expect AI to be an essential driver across the industry within two years.

Yet at the same time, lower-income workers are already experiencing barriers to financial services. Commonwealth data shows 43% of lower income workers do not have a savings account.

But as fintechs and social impact innovators progress towards folding technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analytics into their products, a major exclusion risk exists, says Commonwealth co-founder and executive director Timothy Flacke.

“Emerging technology will play a central role in the post-Covid economy - but the question is, will this hurt or help America’s most financially vulnerable?” he says. “A time of disruption provides an opportunity to include new people in the financial system - but only if technology is intentionally designed and distributed based on a thorough understanding of the needs and aspirations of these customers.”

The initiative builds on Commonwealth’s prior work with JPMorgan Chase, which tested savings tools for lower-wage workers.

For this project, data will be disaggregated by race, gender and age, and will consider the role of place, recognising that economic disruptions often have different impacts across communities. As part of the effort, fintech and nonprofit innovators will field test research findings on the ground with their financially vulnerable consumers to produce more accurate, nuanced insights.

The findings will be disseminated online through a private stakeholder convening and a public webinar.

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