Mobile Financial Services and Economic Inclusion
The FDIC has been exploring ways in which mobile financial services (MFS) can help better engage unbanked and underbanked households in the banking system. Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, have emerged as technology with the potential to change the way consumers interact with banks. In response, banks are rapidly making MFS available to their customers. A 2014 FDIC white paper concluded that MFS has the potential to be implemented in ways that address the specific financial needs of the underserved and help draw them more comprehensively into sustainable banking relationships, thus expanding the number of individuals who obtain financial services safely and securely.
Research on Economic Inclusion and Mobile Financial Services
“Qualitative Research Findings: Opportunities for Mobile Financial Services to Engage Underserved Consumers” (forthcoming May 2016) – This paper reports on the findings from focus groups that explored whether and how MFS helps meet underserved consumers’ financial services needs. It also identifies a set of strategies for banks to consider that can better position them to meet underserved consumers’ needs, and thus provide more opportunities for the underserved within the traditional banking system. Because the paper summarizing the FDIC’s qualitative research has not been published at this time, a presentation from October 2015 containing preliminary findings is provided.
"Assessing the Economic Inclusion Potential of Mobile Financial Services" (2014 Whitepaper) – This whitepaper presents an economic inclusion framework to analyze financial products and services’ ability to: a) increase underserved consumers' access to the banking system, b) retain them in safe and sustainable account relationships, and c) foster financial empowerment to deepen banking relationships and fulfill financial goals. The whitepaper finds that, in the short run, MFS is best positioned 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.
White Paper: Assessing the Economic Inclusion Potential of Mobile Financial Services - PDF (Revised June 30, 2014)
Presentation: Assessing the Economic Inclusion Potential of Mobile Financial Services - PowerPoint