Sadie Keljikian, Stern Corporate Services Group
FinTech companies have taken on an oft-forgotten puzzle: the approximately 2 billion people worldwide who have no current access to banking services. This remarkable portion of the population is unable to secure banking services (credit cards, loans, etc.) due to a variety of reasons, some live in locations without sufficient access to financial services, some have poor credit due to financial missteps in the past, others don’t have any credit background at all. Whatever the reason, FinTech companies and investors are trying to find solutions to close the “bankable” gap.
One of the leaders of this movement is Jennifer Tescher, founder and president of CFSI (The Center for Financial Services Innovation), helped launch initiatives aimed at financial inclusion by incubating startups that address financial opportunity for those at a disadvantage. Among them are Propel, a company that streamlines subsidized food program processes; Bee, a friendly alternative to the often predatory nature of financial services for low-income people, and several savings/debt repayment assistance services.
Other startups are addressing the issues immigrants (particularly entrepreneurs) face when they need a credit line in the US. Cofounder of Nova Credit Nicky Goulimis promises that his business will offer instant access to overseas credit reports, simplifying the process of obtaining credit cards, loans, and business credit lines for individuals who haven’t lived in the US for long. When asked about his drive to serve immigrants in need of credit, Goulimis sited the US census, saying that immigration will be the primary driver of population growth in coming years. Expanding access to financial services is, according to Goulimis, crucial to economic growth in the US.
FinTech companies are also pushing the US to catch up with the rest of the world on mobile wallets. Even in Mexico, 38% of the population uses mobile wallets, compared with the US, where only 17% take advantage of the technology.
Overall, the FinTech industry hopes to see smarter, more efficient banking worldwide and make banking services more widely available.