For many individuals residing in affluent countries, owning a bank account is an everyday reality. They believe bank account ownership is fair and universal-democratized.
However, you may be surprised to find out that a significant proportion of the global population is unbanked. Roughly 1.7 billion adults across the world don’t have access to a savings or current account!
One contributing factor is income level – particularly in developing countries. Other important factors include the costs associated with banking and the distance to the nearest bank. Banks play a fundamental role in society: acting as an intermediary, safely keeping savings and offering loans/lines of credit. For this reason, it is important that they service all individual’s, both low income/ vulnerable communities and high-net worth.
What's changing in Banking?
Alternative Financial Services
The rise in technology, particularly mobile tech has made it easier than ever for financial institutions to reach the sizeable unbanked population. Today, there is a wider availability of financial services and advice, which is offered to individuals across all income brackets.
The evolution in Big Data, AI and increased availability of smartphones., have made significant contributions to this. Mobile internet tech improvements, also have decreased the reliance on physical bank branches and increased the appetite for mobile banking.
Open banking regulations such as the Payment Services Directive-2 across Europe, California Consumer Privacy Act in America and the Consumer Data Right in Australia, have transformed the relationship between consumers and banks. Open banking gives you control over the data banks and financial institutions have on you. It also enables you to initiate payments through 3rd party processors via their APIs. This has radically altered the banking ecosystem enabling new entrants in the form of peer-to-peer lending services, budgeting and expense tracking apps (like Monshare!) and aggregator apps to name a few.
Decentralized Finance (DeFi) & cryptocurrency share an underlying vision of making payments and money in general, accessible to everyone. They provide alternatives to traditional financial assets by removing the ‘middleman’ associated with legacy financial institutions.
Improving Financial Education
Financial education is an important step in the erosion of the general mistrust of traditional banks. Promoting financial literacy establishes institutions as subject-matter experts, whilst making financial inclusion a reality. Closing the financial literacy gap encourages consumers to make smart financial decisions.
We have not yet reached the point of the true democratization of banking, but we’re heading in the right direction! Shifts in perspectives on the services financial institutions should offer and how they should offer them – in addition to rapid technological developments have put the goal of fair banking within close reach.