Alliance Members are Driving the Future of Digital Financial Services

Thursday 29th September 2022

As consumers and small business owners face unprecedented challenges, financial services providers have a unique window to add real value and win share of wallet. Digital financial services (DFS) will drive that growth—but only when done right.

To better serve women and gain an advantage in an increasingly competitive space, digital financial services must be designed with a gender lens. As we laid out in our 2021 research into how fintechs can capture the female economy, this means sex-disaggregating customer data at each stage of the sales funnel and asking why women are under-represented (if they are). It also means understanding their unique needs and behaviors and designing to achieve gender parity.

It begins with brand awareness, and Alliance Fintech members have found creative ways to gain traction with women at this stage. In South Africa, for example, TymeBank put its kiosks where women are—in retail stores—along with ambassadors who support client onboarding. The ambassadors hail from the same communities as the women they serve, which helps them gain their trust. Now, 53 percent of TymeBank’s 5.5 million customers in South Africa are women.

At the consideration stage of the sales funnel, women can be put off by long forms and complicated language. So TymeBank made sure new users could onboard in just three minutes by automatically pre-filling parts of forms, having simple and intuitive processes and ensuring ambassadors are there to answer questions. “We automate the automatable, not the customer experience,” Chief Innovation Officer John Kane told us.

Technology is also a game-changer when it comes to credit approvals. Players such as Alliance member DigiAlly, partner with banks to provide alternative risk assessments for SMEs. They’re leading the way for banks to expand credit approvals for underfunded SMEs, many of which are women-led.

When it comes to the next stage of the funnel, product use, gender-intelligent fintechs have primed the pump by helping women enhance their financial capabilities. A notable example in our network is Lidh, a Mexico-based fintech that offers payment methods and digital tools that organize expenses by category and help women manage their finances.

Many members also integrate their non-financial services through partnerships. TymeBank partners with TRIBE Fintech, for example, to support its VSME and SME customers with a suite of upskilling, networking, and digital storefront services.

The final stage is loyalty. Given women’s roles as chief purchasing officers of their households, they’re primed for cross-selling and up-selling. If served well, they also spread the word and act as brand advocates. In fact, our research found that fintechs that tap into the power of female referrals see organic customer growth accelerate by 50 percent.

The above examples and more are highlighted in our Resource of the Month, which profiles 25 fintech startups that have had success serving women through gender-intelligent design. We’re encouraging more fintechs to design for women through this year’s Hackathon, the 15 finalists of which have just been selected. They’re now embarking on an intensive learning journey to design in a gender-intelligent manner. Following a jury selection process, the last 5 teams will make it to the final pitch at the Financial Alliance for Women Annual Summit on Nov. 3, when we’ll announce the winners.

The Summit will feature high-level speakers from the likes of Tyme in South Africa, Sheroes in India, ZANACO in Zambia, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Join us in London to hear more about gender-intelligent fintech design. Register today: