Digital Frontiers Institute (DFI)

Week-long featuring two webinars

During Financial Inclusion Week DFI hosted a week long seminar in our digital Community of Practice in Switch, where we facilitated digital discussions, and posted insights produced by our corporate members.  We also hosted two webinars on the topics of ‘People’s financial coping mechanisms’, hosted by Ignacio Mas, Executive Director and Founder of DFI and Kathleen Yarwosky, Global Manager, Digital Finance at Accion and ‘RegTech: helping to amplify the voice of the consumer’, hosted by David Porteous, Chair and Founder of DFI and Mackenzie Wallace from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  We had some 60 participants from across the globe joining our event throughout the week.

In the first of the Digital Frontiers Institute’s (DFI) Financial Inclusion Week webinars, DFI’s Ignacio Mas and Accion’s Kathleen Yaworsky addressed the subject of people’s financial coping mechanisms and how digital financial services (DFS) providers can better integrate behavioral insights into their product design and customer engagement strategies. Looking at key differences between the more affluent and those at the base of the pyramid, Ignacio identified four main motivations that should guide the industry: [moving] beyond convenience, beyond data, beyond our own money management attitudes, and beyond products. Kathleen highlighted the importance of the goals of financial inclusion, and suggested that DFS focus on more flexible product design and enhanced customer engagement in order to help create a sense of engagement with and ownership of these products for the many people who are accessing DFS for the first time. Kathleen also provided examples of DFS products that have successfully incorporated behaviorally-informed practices and other technologies (e.g., social media platforms) to help build users’ financial capability beyond traditional financial education [methods/techniques] and give them the tools that they need to navigate their own financial journeys.

In the Digital Frontiers Institute’s (DFI) second webinar for Financial Inclusion Week 2016, DFI’s David Porteus and Mackenzie Wallace, formerly of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and currently policy advisor for digital finance at USAID, discussed the emergence of regtech and its ability to amplify the voice of the consumer, highlighting the work of the CFPB. The CFPB was created in 2011 to provide a single point of accountability for enforcing federal consumer financial laws and protecting consumers in the financial marketplace. During its time the CFPB has handled nearly 1 million complaints from consumers using a distinctive product suite, providing individual assistance to consumers (for example, ensuring they receive a response from companies regarding their complaints within 15 days) and to companies. The CFPB’s public complaint database has become a powerful tool for sharing the best practices of financial service providers and providing incentives for companies to respond to consumers and improve their practices — all while giving consumers the information they need to feel empowered and comfortable in the financial technologies that they use. Additionally, the CFPB has integrated elements of fintech to ensure the consumers’ right to privacy. For example, the CFPB employs AI to automatically scrub-out personally identifiable information [PII] in the complaint database) to ensure the consumers’ right to privacy. Regtech is certainly a global movement that can help us to achieve regulatory and other goals and can be replicated in developing and emerging market contexts.