Publication Date

August 2017

Author(s)

Jess Dorrance, Lucy Gorham

Client/Funder

JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The growth of fintech and the increasing adoption of digital financial services by consumers introduces new opportunities to increase access to financial services. However, a significant expansion of financial inclusion is not an inevitable outcome. Making fintech a true catalyst for change requires new and significant investments and commitment from a broad range of private, philanthropic, nonprofit, public, and regulatory institutions and actors across the financial services ecosystem.

By synthesizing research from every corner of the field and establishing an overview of low- and moderate-income consumer needs, this paper identifies both the barriers and the opportunities facing fintech providers. Additionally, it outlines areas of needed investment that, collectively, would open up greater access to and use of digital financial services for the financially underserved. These investments would also create new opportunities for the underserved to articulate their own needs and be involved in designing appropriate innovations in response. Even more, they could address the concerns of both providers and consumers related to system speed and security, ensure adequate consumer protection, and increase the capacity of a range of nonprofit and other intermediary institutions that are key partners in providing the underserved with the high-quality and affordable products and tools they need to maintain or improve their financial health.

This report also profiles a variety of promising initiatives that illustrate the sorts of innovative cross-sector collaborations needed to reach the underserved in new ways. Currently, the scale of such initiatives remains inadequate compared to the need. This is, in part, because these initiatives are still emerging but, more fundamentally, it is because they require greater resources and further integration into major private and public systems and institutions.

Fortunately, critical players across the financial services landscape are already articulating the required expertise and vision. Our hope is that what many describe as the “fintech revolution” will provide the basis for a deeper revolution in financial inclusion and health that so many families and communities desperately need.