New Approaches to Designing Financial Products for Women

Five "promising ideas" for closing the financial inclusion gender gap

As we say goodbye to Women’s History Month and thoughts of International Women’s Day recede even farther from our minds, it remains critical that the financial inclusion industry continues its focus on the financial needs of women. After all, the financial inclusion gender gap remains at a persistent 7 percent! It’s unacceptable. As a woman, and a mom, here are five ideas I suggest to bring more unbanked women into the financial inclusion fold:

  • Bank accounts for her – Plain and simple, women’s financial needs are different from those of men, and banking products should reflect this. Bic Pen had a lot of success with their “lady pens”, which are specifically designed to fit the hands of women, and the recently-proposed Lady Doritos, in my opinion, hold a lot of promise, too. Bank accounts for her would perhaps be smaller in size, as this would be more manageable for women. Of course these accounts would likely need to cost more in fees to maintain.
  • Bank babysitting – Those of us in financial inclusion know how hard it is to get those who have never had a formal financial account to enroll in services for the first time. What would incentivize moms to open a bank account more than free babysitting at the branch? Affordable babysitting options are so hard to find. Of course this is where financial literacy comes in because most moms would also need someone (ideally a friend) to sit down with them to explain the babysitting scheme and bank account in detail – over coffee obviously.
  • Veto accounts – Smart money management is tough. “Veto accounts” would provide a little help. These joint accounts would send a text notification any time a woman’s kids (or husband?) tried to make a purchase, allowing Mom to review and veto it as desired.
  • KidCoin Mining – I’ve pitched this idea to VC investors, unsuccessfully, so I’ll put it here on the blog for any takers. Perfect for the busy mom, KidCoin Mining is a financial service that literally enables you to bury coins (and larger sums of money) in the backyard and then provides your kids with the tools needed to successfully dig for them. Think of it as a very local savings account that keeps your kids out of your hair. Whether you let the kids keep any of the money they find is up to you!
  • Retirement planning – Retirement planning can be so confusing and CFI’s Behaviorally-Informed Practices for Effective Financial Capability Interventions suggest that rules of thumb can provide helpful mental shortcuts. So here’s a retirement planning rule of thumb for the ladies out there: “First, marry for money, then for love”.

Why stop with women? Another segment of the population – older adults – are also disproportionately financially vulnerable and the current financial services landscape is grossly unequipped to meet their needs. Thankfully, this is changing, as this segment lends itself particularly well to some of the emerging fintech financial products:

  • Mobile money – In times of emergency, it is important for parents to know that they can get money to their children in a hurry. But let’s face it, with all the hacks and data management malfeasance happening these days, you can’t trust mobile money. As such, I suggest Ubmo (Uber + Venmo), a car service provided by fintechs that picks up cash and quickly delivers it. Cash is king.
  • Blockchain wills – These apparently already exist, and I for one am glad. I feel like the transparency provided by distributed ledgers will allow each child to know exactly which among them is actually the favorite. I can’t wait to see the looks on my brothers’ faces when they learn where they stand.

As always, a happy (belated) April Fool’s Day from the CFI! We hope you got a good laugh from our musings.

Image credit: Accion

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