Digital financial services can empower women in the following ways:
Ease of access to financial services
Circumvent cultural barriers
Lower cost of financial services
Promote financial independence
Increased control over finances
Improve women’s access to resources
For generations now, there has been discrimination against women, especially on matters related to property ownership and financial independence. There are several regions around the world in which women are excluded from a lot of things that include owning mobile phones or having access to mobile money services. Restricting women’s access to mobile financial services challenges not only women empowerment but also the development of the economy and digital literacy among women.
One of the most effective ways of tackling this challenge is through the use of digital financial services to empower women and promote inclusivity.
Ease of Access to Financial Services
Having easy access to financial services is a challenge that women across the globe face from time to time. They spend lots of time and resources travelling to and from banks to make payments, withdrawals or acquire any other relevant financial service.
Digital financial services can be effectively used to provide the ultimate solution to such problems. Take mobile money services for instance, women can access financial services right from their mobile handsets. They can make deposits, withdrawals and track their account details from the comfort of their homes or workplaces. This in turn saves them the time and money they would otherwise spend travelling in search of banks and other financial service facilities.
Mobile Banking Can Help Circumvent Cultural Barriers
Cultural barriers are a common hindrance to the development and empowerment of women in several parts of the world. Certain traditions and cultures bar women from owning property or even accessing basic financial services such as creating and owning a bank account.
This is yet another area in which digital financial services can be used to aid the empowerment of women. There are a number of online banking services that women can access from literally any corner of the planet. They can, therefore, create accounts and manage their finances without having to worry about culture and tradition. Mobile banking services also help alleviate the barrier to access of mobile banking services by women. Through such services, women can carry out their transactions on their mobile phones without having to go to an actual bank.
DFS Can Lower the Cost of Financial Services
Among the notable benefits of digital financial services is the lowered cost of financial services like money transfers and other payments. Online and mobile banking have considerably cut down on the costs of acquiring financial services.
This comes as a major boost to women empowerment as it ensures that women pay little to get the right financial services. Women-owned businesses are particularly bound to benefit from the low banking costs. Encouraging women to adopt digital services would therefore be a great milestone towards women empowerment. Businesswomen also get to boost their profit margins by adopting affordable digital services.
Promoting financial independence
With digital financial services it is a lot easier for a person to make investments both locally and across borders. Having more women adopt the use of these services can therefore be pivotal in empowering women. The number of women investors and entrepreneurs will therefore be raised considerably.
To better empower women, it is important to promote financial independence. There is no better way of achieving this than through encouraging them to save. Digital financial services provide an avenue for women to save, regardless of geographical, cultural or traditional differences. This in turn promotes financial independence which is a great step towards the empowerment of women.
Increased Control Over Finances
Another way of empowering women through digital financial services is by handing them control over their finances. Digital financial services such as mobile money and online banking services have really been efficient in giving women control over their finances.
By having access to their financial details from anywhere, they tend to have more control over their finances. They can thus make important decisions such as entrepreneurial or investment decisions and make related choices with real time information on their financial details.
Improve Women’s Access to Resources
In areas where there is discrimination against women owning property or handling their financial resources, digital financial services can be used to offer them access to such services. Digital platforms such as smartphones can be used to access the digital services.
One of the advantages of using such services is the high levels of discretion it provides. Women can thus create, own and manage financial accounts with complete discretion. The confidentiality provided by the digital services has considerable impacts on the empowerment of women.
Inadequate finances have been an obstacle to women empowerment for decades. There are several situations in which potential investors and entrepreneurs are unable to make their investments due to lack of or inadequate resources or capital.
Women particularly find it hard to overcome this challenge in some areas due to exclusion from credit facilities. Through digital financial services, this obstacle can be well taken care of by boosting women’s access to formal loans and credit services. Women can thus acquire loans and credits for investments or for accomplishing their development projects. To encourage more women to adopt digital credit services, it is important to keep the services affordable and the interest rates low.
Financial inclusivity for women is beneficial in many ways besides the empowerment of women. It also contributes to the development of the economy and promotes financial independence.
Digital financial services can be effectively implemented to achieve all this and much more. Leveraging the advancement in technology to improve access to financial services is not only necessary but our duty as members of the financial industry.
TerraPay believes in the democratization of financial services by providing access to everyone equally regardless of geography, gender or financial status.
About TerraPay: TerraPay is the world’s first mobile payments switch – a B2B transaction processing, clearing and settlement service for mobile wallets. Our best-in-class technology serves as the interoperability engine that enables our partners’ customers to send and receive real-time transactions across diverse payment instruments, platforms and regions.