The financial industry and technology can contribute to the construction of a fairer, more sustainable world. This is the premise behind the latest book from Chris Skinner – one of the world’s most influential finance and technology experts and creator of blog thefinanser.com. Entitled Digital for Good, the book has been written with collaboration from industry professionals including Oriol Ros, Director of Corporate Development at Latinia.
Banking and technology unite for sustainable development
What role can technology and finance play in the fight against climate change and inequality? For Skinner, this is a mission organisations must take on responsibly, and transparently: “Banks must not be social; they must also be socially useful. Some banks are trying to be, and the constant themes are twofold: banks must do good for society and good for the planet by harnessing the opportunities offered during their digital transformation journeys.”
Organisations who want to withstand the passage of time need to go beyond being purely purpose-driven. Rather, customer relationships should be driven by causes in tune with their values and corporate culture. As Skinner says; “it might be about saving the planet but it could just as easily be about saving the local community, saving those less able, saving the wildlife on Earth or any other cause”.
A number of causes could form part of a bank’s objectives. For Oriol Ros, it’s a question of financial education, which is the theme put forward in his chapter entitled It’s the education, Stupid! (not bancarisation). Currently more than one billion people across the world are without access to financial services. More than half of Latin America’s population find themselves in this situation. As Oriol Ros points out; “the abyss of social inequality is an empirically proven fact, as are the advantages of having access to the traditional financial system”.
Economic development and financial inclusion
Digitalisation is a powerful ally in facilitating financial inclusion, but it’s far from the only tool that can be used to consolidate this process. In the words of Ros, “the future of inclusion is not necessarily to bank people, but to educate them. In Latin America, financial institutions in various countries have been making efforts, and progress in financial educations, being fully aware that education must go hand in hand with the digitalisation of their clients.”
The results of this effort can already be seen in various regions of the world. Most notably in India and Brazil, but Latin America as a whole has also demonstrated strong progress in support of including more people in the financial system. As Oriol Ros explains in his article, this geographic area has experienced strong economic growth. This has subsequently reduced endemic poverty levels and favoured the appearance of an emerging middle class who can now access various financial instruments such as credit. Ensuring they continue to make effective use of such instruments will be the fruit of continued promotion of education, strengthening their capacity to make their own decisions: “it’s not just about financial upskilling, but also a fundamental change in attitudes that will allow citizens to be proactive every time they learn what their financial needs are, and how to identify and address them, given the offer of their bank’s services and products”.
The book Digital for Good goes on sale on 1 June. Reserve your copy on Amazon now. https://www.amazon.com/Digital-Good-Stand-Something-Will/dp/981497440