Mobile Financial Services and Economic Inclusion
The FDIC has been exploring ways in which mobile financial services (MFS) can help increase financial inclusion among unbanked and underbanked households. Mobile devices such as smartphones have emerged as a technology that has the potential to change the way consumers interact with banks, and banks are rapidly making MFS available to their customers. Implementing MFS in a way that draws underserved consumers more comprehensively into the banking system could help overcoming economic inclusion challenges and expand the number of individuals who meet their financial needs safely and securely within the mainstream banking system. The FDIC whitepaper "Assessing the Economic Inclusion Potential of Mobile Financial Services" considers the ability of MFS to increase consumers' access to the banking system, retain them in safe and sustainable account relationships, and foster financial empowerment to deepen banking relationships and fulfill financial goals.
The paper finds that, in the short run, MFS is best positioned to have an economic inclusion impact through its ability to meet day-to-day financial services needs of underbanked consumers as well as consumers at risk of account closure. The anytime, anyplace, and actionable nature of MFS offers the potential to enhance the sustainability of existing relationships between consumers and banks. MFS also has the potential to help the underserved gain access to the banking system and grow their financial capability. However, the technologies to deliver these benefits are less well established in the marketplace.