On the 13 March 2019 techUK’s Financial Services & Payment and Local Government Programme were pleased to host a roundtable with the Cabinet Office Inclusive Economy Partnership, Nesta, Nationwide, industry and many more on how technology can support financial inclusion and be a driver for good in our local communities.
According to the Financial Inclusion Commission, financial inclusion means belonging to a modern mainstream financial system that is fit-for-purpose for everyone, regardless of their income. 1.5 million adults remain unbanked in Britain today, and it is estimated that 49-64% of households in the UK hold some form of unsecured credit. The challenge is clear, and the roundtabe aimed to seek ‘how’ we can we solve this. Innovations and technologies are out there, open banking, for example but for it to succeed it needs to get out and be utilised by the community.
Before the discussion kicked-off we heard from some key players working towards tackling financial exclusion. We first heard from Richard Collier-Keywood, Senior Adviser to the Government’s Inclusive Economy Partnership who shared with us the aim and ambition of the Partnership. It’s working in collaboration with leaders from across business and civil society to deliver an economy that works for all. It’s one year and a half old and directed to deliver local solutions on the ground. It aims to affect one million people over the lifetime of this work.
The three focus areas are:
- Financial inclusion
- Mental health
- Transition to work
Innovators have been invited to help solve the challenge, and so far the Partnership has curated over 90 partnerships. The four big idea work streams which people can still be involved in (see presentation below for further details) are:
- Open banking for good
- Access to affordable credit
- Mental health reporting
- Pilot to reach hard to reach in West Midlands
Fair4All Finance, which Richard is founding Chair of, has been established in response to the government’s commitment to allocate this funding to financial inclusion initiative. It’s first focus is affordable credit, focusing on the most vulnerable adults when it comes to financial inclusion. It aims to support the sector by supporting the eco-system through capability and capacity. They are looking for volunteers and support, you can get in touch here.
It was great to then hear about open banking for good in action and the tangible outcomes for citizens from Phil Gossett, Senior Innovation Manager, Nationwide Building Society and Mary Harmon, Head of Design, OpenWrks. Nationwide Building Society’s Open Banking for Good challenge (OB4G) saw fintechs and charities work together to develop Open Banking apps and services that make a real difference to people’s lives, particularly those considered most financially vulnerable. It worked with Money Advice Trust and others to understand what financially squeezed face as daily challenges, and the issues identified were:
- Income and expenditure
- Income smoothing
- Money management and help
OpenWrks, one of the applicants, shared their story on how they are making open banking work and helping people to securely share financial information with the businesses they trust so they can deliver more personalised services.
Our final speaker was Kate Sutton, Head of Corporate Social Innovation, Nesta who emphasised the ‘how’ in this discussion is the challenge, we are well versed in the problems and there is plenty of research on it but how do we bring small and large business together to solve it. This then led to a discussion on what it means to be a responsible business.
Key points raised from the discussion included:
Financial literacy is an important step in achieving financial inclusion and technology has a part to play in engaging people, through apps for example, on the usefulness of financial services.
Financial inclusion needs to be embedded into a business it should not be a standalone project.
Should it be financial bodies leading this discussion? Finance can scale but a wider group needs to be involved.
While technology has an important role in enabling financial inclusion it was agreed we can’t dismiss the importance of physical infrastructure as often people will engage when they see a tangible outcome.
Getting right digital identity is another piece of the financial inclusion puzzle, as identity as at the heart of creating seamless accessible services.
techUK already has an active digital identity and open banking work stream and the aim of the roundtable was to look at how we can bring together all the piece of the puzzle to improve social outcomes for citizens. If you have any views of what else you’d like techUK could do around #techUK4good in financial inclusion get in touch with either Ruth Milligan or Georgina Maratheftis.