Can Open Banking Be Implemented Across the Middle East and Africa? by Richie Santosdiaz for The Fintech Times
Feature Stories Fintech Fintech for Good

How Can Fintech Help Improve Financial Well-Being? With Celo, Fiserv, Token and More

This August at The Fintech Times, we’re looking to highlight some of the amazing things fintechs are doing around the world. We are always hearing about the “latest groundbreaking innovation doing good for the community”, but are these innovations doing good for those in an already advantageous position, or are they helping make the financial world more accessible?

There are many different facets to the concept of “fintech for good”, one of the major benefits is an increased financial wellbeing in consumers. We spoke to several companies in the industry to find out more.

Nikhil Raghuveera, Partner in Strategy & Innovation at the Celo Foundation

Nikhil Raghuveera, Partner in Strategy & Innovation at the Celo Foundation, said: “Traditional finance comes with a multitude of caveats, transaction costs, and other fees that limit certain groups from participating in the economy. Financial exclusion can take on a myriad of forms but they all stem from lack of documentation or prior wealth, essentially cutting people off from crucial financial tools whether that be a bank account, credit, savings solutions, or other products. DeFi offers a new paradigm that, if done correctly with an eye towards people’s needs and real-world use cases, can support universal financial empowerment. The DeFi for the People initiative seeks to make this vision a reality by supporting the development of new decentralized applications.”

Ollie Purdue, Partner at Antler, added: “In the case of financial abuse, individuals can be left without access to their own bank accounts. This is a terrible situation that numerous individuals find themselves in, though we are now seeing fintechs developing solutions to help educate individuals and tackle this issue. At Antler, we have invested in the company, SuperFi, which provides tools and resources to help individuals with financial literacy, and empower them to be independent. Obviously, this isn’t isolated to just this one area but simplifying finance can be a real game changer in people’s lives.

Sunil Sachdev, Head of Fintech and Growth, at Fiserv

Sunil Sachdev, Head of Fintech and Growth, at Fiserv believes that with the growth of the API economy, it’s now easier than ever to bring disparate data together into a single experience.

“Many fintechs are using this opportunity to help people gain better visibility into their overall financial status – giving them the perspective needed to make better informed financial decisions. Fintechs can also provide greater visibility into the financial options available to an individual, such as making it easy to review multiple lending vehicles and select the one with the best rate. And with advancements in AI and machine learning, fintechs can help provide real-time guidance to help people make better financial decisions. By leveraging data to understand an individual’s financial patterns, fintechs can anticipate their needs and even intercede with proactive offers that help them avoid financial penalties like overdraft fees. Inserting financial education into the fintech experience can also go a long way in putting people on the path to financial security.”

Brendan Playford, the founder of Masa Finance, said: “With the proper platforms and education, people can use fintech tools to increase the likelihood of overall financial stability, financial freedom, and financial inclusion.

He added: “We’re very focused on building solutions that facilitate personal ownership of financial data. If an individual owns their data they can better understand its benefits and can port it over or share it with the financial provider they want to. Financial well-being is about control and understanding. At the moment most people don’t have either.”

Todd Clyde
Todd Clyde, CEO, Token

CEO of Token, Todd Clyde, believes better payments can help create better cash flow.

He said: “Merchants are paying more than ever to sell their goods and services. Open Banking payments are significantly lower costs for merchants, offering savings that can be passed on to consumers facing general pressures on the cost of living.”

“The United Kingdom’s Payments Systems Regulator (PSR) recently reported that since the U.K. left the EU, Visa and Mastercard have increased scheme and processing fees fivefold. The body is now initiating the review of these fees “to understand the rationale behind these increases and whether they are an indication that the market is not working well.”

“But merchants need not wait for regulators to step in before they can address rising payment costs.

“As Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, recently commented: “Households and businesses in the UK are continuing to feel the squeeze from rising prices (…) retailers will continue to try to absorb as much of these costs as possible and look for cost-savings elsewhere.” 

“Payments are an obvious area for merchants to not only find essential cost-savings but to improve conversion and cash flow.

“Open Banking payments offer significant cost savings by eliminating scheme and interchange fees, chargebacks and PCI-DSS compliance costs, resulting in 2-20x lower payment costs for merchants. 

“With A2A payments, money settles instantly to a merchant’s bank account, providing better cash flow — which is critical for businesses in today’s economic climate.”

Rori Cadavieco, GM EMEA, Jeeves

Rori Cadavieco, GM EMEA, Jeeves concluded: “Fintechs have an important role to play in supporting businesses through the current market turbulence, and helping them to pass down savings and efficiencies to the end-consumer. Fundamentally, fintechs are – or have been – early-stage, fast-growth businesses themselves, so they not only understand the importance of maintaining a healthy balance sheet, but the pain points of accessing finance on-demand and the need for crystal clear visibility into ingoings and outgoings. Both are critical for businesses to maintain momentum and make smart, informed business decisions that ultimately improve the bottom line.

“Unlike traditional financial services, many fintechs make assessments based on the present value of revenue streams, and can in turn recognise potential, and support growth in the long term. In the past, founders have had to tolerate detailed audited financials or credit bureau reports before they can access loans, or face lengthy waiting times only to find out they’ve been rejected. Now, with faster access to working capital – innovative projects are no longer delayed, salary or rent payments are not missed, and businesses can work with healthy cash flow – driving efficiencies and improving financial wellbeing right down to the end-user.”


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