Financial Inclusion: Using echnology to your Advantage
By Emmanuel Allotey
Financial inclusion is defined as efforts to provide universal access to affordable financial products and services for individuals and businesses. Technology has become ubiquitous in this modern-day era and has proved to be a sustainable cost-effective way to deliver products and services. Financial products and services aimed at transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance which are now being delivered through technology platforms such as websites, mobile phones amongst others.
Technology is embodied in Mobile phones and the high penetration of mobile phones throughout Sub-Saharan Africa is testament to the adoption of technology. Sub Saharan Africa has over half a billion unique mobile subscribers to date, making Africa the fastest growing mobile market. As mobile phone technology becomes more widespread and less expensive, more Africans will have access to technology that was previously inaccessible. According to reports, countries with higher concentrations of mobile phone usage and mobile phone access have more successful economies.
Access to Financial products and services have been simplified and made accessible through Mobile phones. Innovation in technology and the introduction of Financial technology (FinTech) has created a surge in diverse range of products and services being offered through technology platforms. In Africa, some Banks allow individuals to open current and savings account within 15 minutes through a mobile phone. This is financial inclusion at its best, however it begs the question are individuals ready to capitalise the financial opportunities available.
The first requirement to benefit from Financial inclusion initiatives is a Smartphone. With a smartphone you can download the Financial service providers Application (App) or alternatively access their website. Through the App and website, you have direct access to all services on offer anytime, anywhere at your convenience. The smartphone is the gateway to all financial products and services.
The second requirement is Data or internet access. Mobile service providers offer different mobile data packages. Individuals need to ensure they subscribe to an affordable package that allows them to access the internet and other apps. Disappointingly, Africa has the world’s most expensive prepaid mobile data plans in relation to median incomes. Internet access will ensure seamless connectivity to financial products and services.
The third requirement is an email address. Email addresses are unique communication tool where messages from financial service providers can be exchanged anytime anywhere. With an email address you have access to e-statements and other correspondence at your fingertips without having to visit the service provider.
In conclusion, with a smartphone, an affordable data plan/ internet access and an email address you are positioned to utilise available financial products and services through your mobile phone. Get connected now and experience a new world of financial products and services.