Fintech Banking-In this era of Big Data, it seems like financial services companies know everything there is to know about our lives as consumers – where we live, what we do for a living, how much we make, how much we have saved, what we buy and what we might want to purchase in the future.
But the reality is there are huge segments of the population in the U.S. and globally about which these companies know very little. Sometimes that’s because people have left very few data “breadcrumbs” offering clues about themselves – they’re unbanked or underbanked and lack a credit history. In other cases, consumers have left a trail, but it’s not accessible to the company or agency that needs it to asses someone’s worthiness for a credit card, a cell phone plan or an apartment.
And in still other instances, companies just don’t know what they don’t know. They haven’t put systems in place to really get to know or collect data about groups of consumers who don’t look like the people who populate the firms’ own front offices – people who aren’t white, aren’t straight, don’t live in a big city, who may lack college degrees or may have recently immigrated to their current country of residence.
“There’s a huge conversation to be had about how do we in the industry represent the spectrum in the U.S., or if you have global coverage, how do you represent the spectrum of people globally when all you’re looking at is a list of privilege” among top leadership, said Jane Barratt, chief advocacy officer of MX Technologies, a Utah-based firm that provides data to financial institutions and fintech firms.
Barratt and other experts discussed how financial services and fintech can become more inclusive and more empowering for consumers at the recent “Fearless in Fintech” conference at Wharton San Francisco. The conference was co-sponsored by Knowledge@Wharton and Wharton Executive Education and organized by Momentum Event Group.
What Do We Know About Jane?
To illustrate the importance of perspective in the sector, Adrienne Harris, a former special assistant for economic policy in the Obama administration, used the example of a fictional woman named “Jane” who makes about $60,000 a year. Harris described Jane’s life starting from when she gets her biweekly paycheck – with step one being a trip to a check cashing business.