April marks Financial Literacy Month in the United States, and according to Center for Financial Services Innovation, only 28% of Americans are considered “financially healthy.”
HOW IS “FINANCIAL HEALTH” DEFINED
Rather than relying on income as an indicator of financial health, CSFI outlines the four pillars of financial health as saving, spending, borrowing, and planning. Financial health is also influenced by a variety of demographic factors. Men are more likely to be financially healthy than women, for instance, and black and Hispanic populations are nearly twice as likely to be financially vulnerable than white populations.
Despite the overall health of the US stock market and low unemployment rate, nearly ¾ of Americans are dealing with financial uncertainty. Wages have risen by just 10 percent since 1973, while costs around housing, food, and healthcare have grown.
The Federal Reserve Board’s “Report on the Economic Well-Being of US Households in 2017” stated that 1/4 of non-retired adults have no retirement savings or pension, and 40% of adults say they cannot cover a $400 emergency expense, or would do so by borrowing or selling something.
WHAT FINTECH IS DOING ABOUT IT
When MCFT Founding Advisor Sarah Biller led the keynote address at partner FinTech Sandbox’s Demo Day 6.0 during New York FinTech Week this April, her point was clear: Fintech entrepreneurs have the opportunity to improve financial health for countless underserved individuals, while making a profit.
Her words echoed much of the sentiment at The Boston Federal Reserve earlier this spring, where local non-profit Commonwealth and players in the fintech space reiterated the need and opportunity for more support, partnerships, and funding for companies working to address the financial challenges so many individuals face.
In an interview with FinTech Influencer Jim Smith, Sarah elaborated, “Deciding that everyone’s financial security matters is not just a nice slogan, but an opportunity.
The Pew Institute estimates that a financially sound middle class could greatly expand global economic growth. So a commitment to building representative datasets that enable new and relevant products and services that help everyone enter the financial mainstream is critical.
Let’s enable FinTech entrepreneurs to reach new customer segments, increase their financial well-being, and do so at scale and profitably.” It is clear that fintech has the ability and agility to redefine how data and technology can be used to better understand and service the growing number of people living in financial insecurity.
MASSCHALLENGE FINTECH’S 2019 EFFORTS
Several MassChallenge FinTech 2019 cohort startups are focused on this important issue:
“It’s not easy to talk about money, and as a result these topics are sometimes avoided until the last minute, or worse, when it’s too late. One example is the cost of college - for a lot of reasons this reality often isn’t addressed until after a student has visited, applied, and been accepted to a college. Only then — when the family gets their tuition bill or financial aid award letter— does it really sink in. Edmit is helping families address college affordability earlier, with digital reports and advising to help families make smarter college choices, with greater confidence and control over the process.”
-- Nick Ducoff, CEO and Co-Founder of Edmit
“We envision, and are helping to build a world, where managing finances is straight forward and transparent for everyone, with access the tools to realize their goals. That each person has access to the information and services to allow them to manage their money and spend their money on their terms. And that people have reasonable options available to them to overcome unforeseen events that invariably pop up for all of us.
Pinkaloo is helping to build this world with a specific focus on providing banks with a white-label platform to power their customers’ charitable giving. Every customer has the tools they need to manage their charitable giving, regardless of whether they’re donating $25 per year or $25,000 per year.
The Modern Giving accounts help people budget for their giving, help keep their tax receipts in one place, discover and support great organizations, and collaborate with other community members, securely from their current online and mobile banking apps.”
-- Gideon Taub, Founder and CEO of Pinkaloo
In addition, MCFT partners such as AARP and Eastern Bank tailored 2019 program challenges to improve customers’ financial health, and as MassChallenge FinTech looks towards its future, we are exploring even more ways to make a positive impact in people’s financial lives. Program Director Devon Sherman notes:
"We’ve been deeply impressed by startups tackling financial wellness and inclusion—from preventing elderly fraud to demystifying the cost of college and creating dynamic credit scores—as well as the enterprises who are rolling up their sleeves to meaningfully partner with these startups and accelerate their growth. We encourage all financial services industry players to continue to think creatively about how we can promote financial health and benefit the underserved, and at MCFT we’re excited to double down on our efforts around financial inclusion for the 2020 program."
It’s clear that fintech presents an enormous opportunity to solve the massive challenges in financial health not only nationally, but on a global scale. Want to collaborate with MassChallenge FinTech to shape the future of financial health? Whether a startup, corporation, community organization, or otherwise, we’d love to speak with you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.