November 29, 2016

Empowering Women Through Digital Financial Solutions

Written by Sajda Ouachtouki

This article originally appeared on MicroLinks.

Did you know that in addition to offering many economic benefits, bank account ownership –  which can be achieved through digital financial solutions – can make you happier?  Researchers found this to be true when looking at data from the Gallup World Poll surveys compared against Global World Findex data.

At the February 4th Microlinks event, Dr. Ruth Goodwin-Groen of the Better Than Cash Alliance (BTCA) and Dr. Leora Klapper of the World Bank Group highlighted the benefits of digitizing financial solutions to advance women’s economic participation.  In addition to happiness, these include:

  • Bridging the gender gap in account ownership and increasing women’s formal financial activity
  • Offering privacy, safety, confidentiality, control over their finances, and financial decision-making power
  • Increasing women’s labor participation
  • Improving the performance of women-owned businesses

Some developing economies, such as Kenya, have proven successful in mainstreaming an array of digital financial services.  But other parts of the world are lagging behind, particularly where network and banking infrastructure is insufficient and/or the right enabling environment isn’t in place.  As Dr. Goodwin-Groen and Dr. Klapper highlighted, there are numerous challenges to expanding digital financial services in developing countries. For women in particular, the lack of phone ownership remains a large barrier to accessing digital financial services: 1.7 billion women in low- and middle- income countries do not own a mobile phone. Other challenges mentioned during the event included: inadequate network infrastructure, low financial literacy, low digital literacy, lack of formal identity cards, and legal barriers.

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