India has made significant changes in the proportion of consumers using digital payments but still shows a relatively large gender gap, the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) has said.
New rising fintech innovations have the capacity to address the barriers women face in being financially excluded. The use of smartphones is becoming more widespread, permeating into the most remote and economically underdeveloped areas.
Fintech can help bridge the gap in a number of ways, said Chul Ju Kim and Erica Paula Sioson, Deputy Dean and Research Associate at ADBI.
Less stringent documentation and lower fees for opening and maintaining accounts are points where most fintech innovations depart from traditional financial institutions.
Besides, these innovations integrate various services — from deposits and withdrawals to payments for goods and services — making it easier for women who, between working and caring for a family, may not have enough time to go to a bank.
Such ease of doing transactions can also help women better manage their time for more productive activities, said Kim and Sioson in a policy brief.
More importantly, fintech can increase the formalisation of women’s transactions, protecting and educating them against fraud and unfair transactions and empowering them by making them agents of their own financial futures.
Hence, governments should act with targeted policy interventions to ensure robust and broad infrastructures for digital finance to thrive and survive.
There should be tailored and innovative fintech services for the underserved with a particular focus on women. At the same time, flexible and comprehensive regulatory regimes must be put in place to ensure access along with active coordination among relevant ministries and institutions to enhance financial inclusion.