Women account for around half the populace. However, when it comes to financial services and products, a noticeable bias towards affluent white men means other demographics, especially females, have less choice.
At the same time, fintech is aware that well-designed products closely matching requirements, and priorities support better utility and consumer satisfaction. For founders, it’s a win-win situation as higher customer satisfaction would in turn increase the appeal of and demand for certain solutions.
Given this, a distinct niche is emerging to address the unique needs of ladies. These startups span everything from payments and credit to business funding.
Why women-focused services
The European Women Payments Network (EWPN) and Keen Innovation together have released a report, Female Finance: Digital, Mobile, Networked. The paper outlines the ecosystem of fintech for women and explores the reasons why they should have their own options.
It notes although one gender performs the majority of everyday household budgeting and related tasks, mainstream financial solutions are usually designed with middle-class and wealthy white males in mind. Since the two demographics can diverge widely in their objectives and values, this results in options failing to provide real value to one half of the population.
The EWPN paper suggests fintech should keep a few key considerations in mind when designing for this segment of the populace. In doing so, tech companies and startups will be more likely to be closely meeting their requirements.
- First, these consumers can benefit from digital tools supporting domestic money management, such as solutions for budgeting, tracking expenses, and monitoring savings.
- Second, the market has a dearth of offerings supporting this segment in overcoming historical and cultural barriers. An obvious example is how men might be more likely to do better in this area, possibly due to stereotypes as well as factors rooted in culture.
- Lastly, offerings should reflect different designs, aesthetic approaches, and features and not be narrowly concentrated on male users.
Examples of first-movers
The EWPN report took a deeper look at what features and tools might more closely satisfy the requirements of this half of the population, and in doing so outlined five key categories.
The first was payments and credit. In this vertical, Indian startup Upwards has been making inroads into what’s a fast-growing segment in some countries: personal loans. However, Upwards lends only for professionals. Afterpay is another player, founded in Australia, which is used widely but heavily focuses on this demographic in their marketing campaigns. Kenyan microfinance player Musoni Microfinance delivers group lending and individual, education, emergency, and agricultural loans and the majority (63%) of its customers are ladies, while 68% of its agri-business loans are made to female smallholder farmers.
The second category was financial management, where players like Nav.it are facilitating essential money-management functions like the paying off of debt, monitoring spending, automating savings, and planning for the future. Bank Cler, a traditional bank operating in Switzerland, has launched Eva. Through this solution, users can access consulting services and stay updated on networking and other events. Smart Purse is another education-centered platform, headquartered in the UK, for promoting awareness and sharing of information about money.
The third vertical, insurance, has seen offerings like Zaamin from Jubilee Life Insurance. Zaamin helps users with boosting savings, growing wealth, and building retirement security. In terms of insurance, the platform also includes benefits for accidental death. Similarly, Manulife’s Eve (Philippines) provides health insurance that includes pregnancy-related conditions, congenital abnormalities, and childbirth benefits for hospital stays. Subscribers can purchase life insurance and critical illness insurance, which cover surgery and procedures like breast tumor removal, hysterectomy, and reconstructive surgery.
The fourth category was investments. In this space, FinMarie and Ellevest have been notable in their robo-advisory platforms providing smart money-management advice. US business Women Investing Now shares expert guidance based on life stage and personal goals.
The fifth and final category was funding sources for entrepreneurs, and these include venture capital firms like Voulez Capital and investment clubs like Neome, IFundWomen, Fund Dreamer, and Women You Should Fund are noteworthy crowdfunding sites for females.
Men are often overrepresented in certain industries, whether as employees or consumers. Money, wealth, and finance are some of these sectors. For the ladies, this bias results in a disadvantage in accessing great products, advice, and guidance. Given they’re already likely to be earning less than their male counterparts, this can further erode the wealth and income imbalance.
From the perspective of startups, failing to target 50% of the population could mean significant missed opportunities and earnings. In a rapidly moving niche such as those within fintech, moving early can enable established, traditional players to maintain their market share, retain customers, and keep their female clientele happy.
Author Bio: Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in Forbes, Yahoo News, and The Next Web. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, lecturing in Cross-Cultural Management and the Pre-MBA Program. Connect with him on LinkedIn.