CATALYST FUND LEARNING BRIEF | JULY 2020
Research, new and old (including BFA’s own financial diaries), in both the US and emerging markets, has raised concerns about households’ financial health – meaning the extent to which families can manage day-to-day expenses, respond to shocks and take advantage of opportunities even once banked. The COVID-19 crisis has brought the idea of financial health to the forefront, as it has thrown households’ net income into disarray, increased expenses and decimated any savings or safety net families in underserved communities may have had.
While financial inclusion has been the focus for many years, research suggests that access to financial services alone is not delivering the desired results in increasing individuals’ resilience and ability to respond to such crises or creating meaningful pathways towards overall financial wellbeing.
For startups and other financial service providers, financial health means a deeper consideration of how customers use financial products and what value those products are providing. Available evidence highlights the importance of accessing a broad range of financial products that are tailored to people’s circumstances and daily needs, which customer-centric startups are well-suited to provide. This brief explores three specific areas of opportunity: 1) digital savings, 2) long-term financial products and plannings and 3) insurtech. For each area, we outline existing gaps in access and coverage, and indicate how fintech innovations could be deployed to address them, including examples of fintech startups that are delivering innovative new services.