|A redlining map of Los Angeles in 1939.|
Monday, October 12, 2020
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
by Erin B. Taylor and Anette Broløs
Historically, few financial tools have been developed with women in mind or marketed to them directly[i]. Today, however, new financial services are appearing on the market that respond to practical everyday economic needs including design and marketing. Currency converters, financial management apps, investment apps, and alternative credit sources, are now being developed specifically for women, or primarily marketed to them. A plethora of websites, blogs and podcasts for women offer advice, information, and educational courses on finance. Many of these are community-based initiatives and aim to create a dialogue with women.
But do women really need their own financial services? What can these new fintech products offer women that gender-neutral products can’t? We explore these questions in two new publications. One is a book chapter called “Financial technology and the gender gap: Designing & delivering services for women” (in Malefyt and McCabe 2020), and an industry report called Female Finance: Digital, Mobile, Networked (EWPN/Keen Innovation 2020).
The financial gender gap exists for many reasons, including income inequality, women taking time off for child-rearing or caring for a family member, fewer investment opportunities for women, and the tendency for women to manage daily budgets while men tend to take care of long-term financial management[ii]. Lower (or different) financial literacy, lack of confidence in financial knowledge, and differences in investment behavior can limit women’s ability to achieve financial security[iii]. And in some areas of the world poverty, limited access to technology and legal restrictions hinder women’s access to financial tools and confidence in using them[iv].
However, to our surprise, we discovered that there is neither an overview of existing financial solutions offered to women, nor an overview of research on women’s engagement with their finances. Through our work as co-organizers of research activities within the European Women Payments Network (EWPN), we also noticed that industry professionals are not very aware of what the market in fintech for women looks like. Few professionals could name any fintech products designed specifically for women.
So we set out to discover what this market consists of, how extensive it is, what kind of women it serves (as well as where they’re located), and – most importantly – how fintech products claim to serve women. Along with the EWPN and Keen Innovation, we identified as many fintech products for women as we could. This is a very new field: most of the companies we found were founded during the last 5-10 years). The resulting report not only maps out these products, but also begins to analyse how they serve women in five areas: payments and credit, financial management, insurance, investment, and capital for entrepreneurs.
Common features in services for women
- Storytelling in a language that speaks to women's life contexts
- Accessible solutions that are digital and mobile
- Learning opportunities (blogs, support, "academies")
- Social features (mentors, events, networking, communities)
Through our analyses of the concrete product and service offering, we realized that women tend to engage with finances differently to men. They value financial services that understand their life situation (young professionals, young families with housing and children on their minds, single parents or women establishing their own company to allow more flexibility in their daily lives). They prefer services that are readily available, uncomplicated to use, and provide a fast overview of economic transactions and decisions. Women are increasingly investing money, and their investment decisions are often based on a broader range of criteria than investment advisers usually take into account. They look to understand how their wealth can best be invested to ensure fulfilling their wishes over time, and tend to focus on social issues such as sustainability, local development and inclusion.