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Gender-Neutral Fintech Isn’t Working for Women

When it comes to understanding, valuing, and investing in women’s inclusion, the fintech industry is not moving fast enough. And speed is essential: without drastic acceleration of women’s financial inclusion, gender bias may become hard-coded into the digital financial-services industry.

WASHINGTON, DC – Financial technology (fintech) has often been touted as a powerful enabler of financial inclusion. And over the past several years, the fintech industry has enabled important advances in access to financial services – including digital savings, credit, insurance, payments, and remittances – for previously underserved populations. But when it comes to women’s inclusion, we have a long way to go.

To find out how fintech firms are delivering on the promise of women’s financial inclusion, and which practices work, we asked industry experts. A new study by the International Finance Corporation, based on a survey of 114 fintech firms from 17 countries, captures what they had to say. The findings are telling.

Although 59% of the fintech firms included in the study collect sex-disaggregated customer data, only 32% of firms use this information to tailor the design and delivery of financial services for women. Instead, firms tend to take a “gender-neutral” approach, which does not directly address how to reach women at scale. Perhaps it should not be surprising, then, that for a majority of fintech lenders, women constitute less than 25% of their business customers.