MICROFINANCE PAPER SUMMARY: “Best Practices Guidance on Women’s Digital Financial Capability”, published by Accion’s Center for Financial Inclusion

This document discusses methods to increase the “capacity of women to access, manage, understand, integrate, evaluate and use the financial services offered by digital technologies”. The digitization of financial services and products is becoming increasingly widespread, including in regions of the world that are underserved by traditional banks. Investing in building the digital financial capabilities of women can play an important role in close the gender gap in ownership of financial accounts.

The authors argue that financial service providers (FSPs) and other organizations seeking to support women in this area must first analyze their potential market. By interviewing women in targeted communities, FSPs can learn the extent of women’s digital and financial literacy while identifying needs and challenges. This allows FSPs to customize their programming to the specific community they serve. In all communities, the authors argue that programs must be designed to accommodate the different learning speeds of different women. Additionally, women often face time constraints, so programs need to offer on-demand content, such as via pre-recorded videos and SMS (text messaging).

Presenting women in the community as role models can give other women the confidence and tools they need to learn. For example, the Boma Project, a rural livelihoods program in Kenya, found that participants were confused by phone touchpads. Boma introduced interactive voice recordings delivered by community mentors, which led to better adoption of new technologies.

Providing content to women in a creative and effective way is important for increasing engagement. By texting or Whatsapping nudges, program providers can continue to save and learn “above the minds” of customers. For example, a digital savings app might use SMS reminders to give customers weekly updates on savings goals, loan repayments, or budgeting.

In order to measure the effects of digital financial capability programs, the authors present examples of indicators to measure knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors. These indicators cover a variety of potential changes in a community, such as the percentage who: (1) understand how to identify financial products that meet their needs; (2) know who to contact in their community when they have questions; (3) understand the benefits of long-term savings goals; and (4) actually save money toward their stated goals.

This is a summary of an article published by the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion, November 2021, 8 pages, available at https://www.findevgateway.org/paper/2021/12/better-practice-guidance-womens- digital – financial capacity

By Zachary DeLuca, Research Associate

Additional Resources

Accion home page

Boma Project Home Page

Center for Financial Inclusion Home Page

More summaries of MicroCapital

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