“Digital Savings: The Key To Women´s Financial Inclusion?” by Women’s World Banking

Published in August 2015

Women´s World Banking, as part of its mission to promote female financial inclusion, has published “Digital Savings: The Key to Women´s Financial Inclusion?” with five best practices for digital savings amongst low-income women.

The document highlights that women tend to be inherent savers. It shows that despite scarce and irregular income streams, they are estimated to save between 10% and 15% of their earnings. However, barriers to mobility and the cultural and time constraints that they face on a day-to-day basis make it hard for them to access a safe place to save. Thus, digital savings offer them a secure, low-cost solution, enabling them to set aside small amounts of money, using new channels such as mobile phones and retail agents. Nonetheless, the authors recognise that low educational levels that slow down the take-up of new technologies are another part of the gender gap world-wide.

It also shows that financial services, in general, have not been designed to be female-friendly, thinking about how low-income women might need to use them. It mentions the benefits that financial entities and other stakeholders in this sector (such as MNO’s, mobile network operators) could derive from focussing more on women’s needs in their strategies. This would not necessarily mean creating differentiated products for men and women. MNO’s are digital innovation leaders, but so far have designed services for payments rather than for savings or insurance. Yet mobile wallet users of all sexes have been seen to use their new wallets as if they were a savings tool, suggesting a more widespread untapped demand for digital savings.