The convenience brought by the advances in fintech has been a welcome change for consumers. From global remittance to mobile apps that allow us to send money to friends, there’s no doubt that fintech has had a positive impact on the way we manage, spend and share money. At the same time, it’s created inclusion and opportunities to better manage and share money for populations across the world.
Remittance: Critical for Migrant Workers and Global Economies
In many countries, such as India, a strong and tight-knit family culture often means that people take care of their aging parents, educate the family’s children and care for unemployed and handicapped family members. For many, jobs abroad are often the best way to earn the income they need to support family members at home. This strong family system and sense of responsibility for the family unit motivates Indian workers abroad to send significant amounts of money home each year. In 2018 India received nearly $79 billion of overseas remittances — a 14% leap from last year’s $69 billion. As this number continues to grow, fintech plays a critical role in faster, safer and more secure remittances.
Today, advances in fintech and the widespread adoption of mobile are meeting the needs of migrant workers in countries around the world. This is especially evident in the cruise industry where workers are paid via direct deposit on a prepaid card and can manage their money from a mobile app that is whitelisted onboard and engineered to function in low-bandwidth technology environments. Fintech has made it easy to send money home from anywhere with a few simple clicks in a mobile app, just minutes after getting paid. Family members can then pick up the money minutes after the crew member sends it – and in cash if preferred.
This is just one of many examples that illustrates the impact fintech innovation has had on remittances and as a result, economies across the world. And although technology is the driver, remittance has also created opportunities for financial inclusion, empowerment and control among migrant workers.
Social Responsibility for Fintech Providers
Among cultures that are largely reliant on cash and potentially tech-averse, remittance becomes increasingly complicated. Exposure to technology is vastly different across the globe and can evoke a variety of emotions, from uncertainty to confusion and even fear. Creating a fintech solution that meets the regulatory requirements of multiple countries, crosses language barriers and addresses the unique needs of multiple nationalities and economies is no easy task. And, taking that product to market comes with the social responsibility to educate end-users on how to safely and responsibly leverage this technology so they can overcome uncertainty and take advantage of the freedom fintech can bring.
For example, at Brightwell we create educational materials that help our end users plan budgets. We teach them the basics of budgeting and saving because mastering those skills helps them manage money wisely so they can better provide for their families. With a budget and savings aligned, new doors open for migrant workers and they gain the ability to successfully plan for the future.
The rapid growth of fintech has also created a need for providers to take a more mindful and inclusive approach to product development and marketing. In the simplest form, this means avoiding industry jargon that could confuse or frustrate a person who is new to digital commerce. It also means that fintechs should take the time to become immersed in the cultures and get a firsthand view of how money works in the geographies they want to serve. Fintech products should be easy to use and designed for consumers who may be less comfortable with technology.
Fintech solutions should also reflect the meaning of colors and words in different markets. For example, the color red has a meaning of good luck in China but in South Africa, it is the color of mourning. These seemingly small elements of bringing a product to market can go a long way in making consumers feel at ease and comfortable.
A Bright Future
Fintech is changing lives and promoting inclusion across the globe. As more providers take the responsibility to educate and inform unbanked populations and users less comfortable with technology, the opportunities become endless. Fintech has the power to help countries across the globe navigate the transition from cash-based to digital.
About the Author: Audrey Hall is the senior vice president of product for Brightwell, a FinTech company that helps global workers get paid, as well as send and spend money safely and easily worldwide.