Women represent the world’s largest and fastest-growing market, yet they remain largely overlooked and underserved in the financial industry. One billion women around the world don’t have access to financial services and there is a 9% gender gap in financial access across the emerging markets. Furthermore, economic crises and the current pandemic have highlighted the vulnerability of women to such shocks and the reason to support and enable them to be resilient, recover and be self-reliant. Fintechs and inclusive finance focused companies can play a huge role in designing products with women in mind, and thus help to close the gender gap in financial inclusion.
Gender savings gap has increased in the last few years. Fewer women are offered savings plans at work as compared to men. While the investing gap has narrowed a lower percentage of women invest as compared with men. The main reasons are on average, women self-report lower levels of financial literacy, have less business experience, have smaller networks, and seek role models. In order to overcome these issues, solutions focused on women need to focus on access to information, education, networks, and recognition. Women need information on starting a business, competitively priced digital financial products. They need access to networking platforms that introduce platforms to potential buyers and suppliers. Banking products need to be able to serve the needs of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Female-led Fintechs are more likely to support MSMEs, as well as rural populations.
According to the Financial Alliance for women, research shows women to be strong savers who can provide a reliable source of liquidity for fintechs. They’re better borrowers than men (women’s non-performing loans are 53 percent lower than men’s)17 and yet they have less access to credit, making them a valuable market opportunity. Women are also prudent investors. For example, Scripbox (India), a robo-advisory Fintech whose customer base is more than 28 percent women, found that their female customers:
• Are more disciplined savers (85 percent of women were invested in systematic investment plans compared to 80 percent of men);
• Tend to save more (women saved 15 percent of their salary, compared to men saving 10 percent of theirs); and
• Invest for the long term and stay invested (only 10 percent of women withdrew from their mutual funds ahead of the term, compared to 15 percent of men).
Some companies providing such solutions for women include Ellevest (USA), founded by Sallie Lee Krawcheck, a platform for investing, banking, on-demand learning, financial planning, and career coaching for women. FinMarie (Germany), founded by Karolina Decker, the first online investment solution made by women for women in Europe. The company’s mission is to motivate women to take control of their financial freedom. Along with that, FinMarie aims at increasing financial confidence of women by improving their financial knowledge and awareness. SmartPurse (UK) SmartPurse offers women access to bespoke financial coaching and a learning toolbox designed to help users achieve financial independence. LifeSaver (USA), founded by Karen Rios, the first universal banking platform for managing, discovering and opening accounts across banks and credit unions. They aim to democratize access and inclusion into the full spectrum of financial services, leveling the playing field for individuals and institutions alike serving the underserved. Kite (India), founded by Priyanka Kanwar is a vision for an inclusive digital economy providing accessible, secure and modern finance to Indian businesses, their employees, and beyond.
Diverse organizational leadership provides numerous benefits for the female and general population. Female leaders in Fintech can play a pivotal role in designing and marketing financial products to meet the needs of today’s global women.