Helping women control their financial lives through digital financial services
This expert opinion, published by the Center for Financial Inclusion, discusses how digital financial services (DFS) can help women to control their financial lives. One important benefit of DFS to women is privacy. Since digital transfers are invisible to others, protecting the recipient from the possible demands of friends or family, they give a woman greater independence around how she saves or spends her money. A study in Niger found that using mobile transfers to deliver cash payments increased women’s autonomy and decision-making. The households of these women were more likely to cultivate marginal cash crops primarily grown by women, which allowed women to earn more money. In other cases, it is the record-building that attracts women to DFS. The fact that financial service providers can view digital transactions means that women can build credit histories, which ultimately enable them to access loans and other financial products such as insurance. Additionally, DFS help women through crisis, because women can connect with their social networks of family and friends, quickly communicate their need and receive financial support via mobile money from remote contacts. This was the case in Kenya. According to the author, DFS not only give women greater control over their finances, but also over their time, since they do not have travel to a branch and wait in line.