Deep Impact Through Collaborative Design

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

By Tanya Ladha, Director, Financial Health Network

Financial technology companies, or fintechs, have altered consumer’s approach to their financial lives and financial health. Whether someone wants to save more, budget better, track their spending, or all of the above, there are many apps to support those efforts. Fintech companies can reach consumers anywhere, anytime, with customized and intuitive features designed to help people reach their goals. What’s even more promising is how many fintech companies are committed to serving an ever broadening base of customers — often those traditionally underserved by mainstream financial institutions. By centering the voice of underserved communities, fintechs can have a deeper, positive impact on the financial lives of vulnerable individuals. And lucky for them, there are innovative and trusted nonprofits with an ability to scale, operational agility, and an interest in improving their clients’ financial health, that are ready to help them do just that.

Over the last several years, the Financial Health Network has run the Nonprofit-Fintech Exchange (The “Exchange”) to facilitate and learn from exactly these types of collaborations. The Exchange brings together nonprofit organizations operating at scale and fintech companies with products designed to improve financial health, and over the last four years, has created opportunities for like-minded, cross sector organizations to learn together, join forces, and in some cases, receive financial support to test and learn from new partnerships.

Through our work with the Exchange, fostering relationships between fintechs and nonprofits, we have learned valuable lessons, which we’ve collected in our latest report — “Cross Sector Solutions: A Guide to Non-Profit Fintech Partnerships”. The Guide offers tips for both those getting started on their path to partnerships, as well as those seeking to deepen their impact.

By working across sectors with diverse partners, members of the Exchange found innovative ways to both learn from, and advice one another. For example, we noticed many of our fintech members sought to serve the financially vulnerable, yet lacked access to the consumers and markets that would help them design relevant products. The experiences of Exchange members uncovered ripe opportunities for fintech providers to create more inclusive products:

  • Demystifying data protection: LMI and underserved households have a justified aversion to the data security risks that come with using fintech products. Fintechs can adapt by clearly informing users of the protections in place; they can also find ways to minimize the amount of data they need and clearly explain why they need it.
  • Adapting for Different Languages: We have seen nonprofits struggle to find products with interfaces offered in Spanish and other languages. Fintech providers can increase access to their products by making sure they function well for people that either don’t speak English or are less comfortable using it to conduct their personal business.
  • Reducing Minimums: Fintech providers can consider lowering minimum account balances or required payment amounts in order to make products more accessible for households with tight budgets or limited savings.

Fintechs who have participated in the Exchange have come to understand that each phase of a customer’s journey — from onboarding to active engagement — can benefit from the insights and experience of nonprofit organizations who have trusted relationships with an often hard to reach consumer. Working together, we believe we can create a more inclusive fintech ecosystem that produces solutions designed for and delivered to the people that need them most.

Read more about what we learned, and how you and your team can join the Exchange.

Interested in Exploring Nonprofit-Fintech Partnerships?

Join the Nonprofit-Fintech Exchange, a marketplace for interested nonprofit and fintech providers to explore collaboration and swap insights on how to build high-impact partnerships. Learn more here and request to join the Exchange — there is no cost for membership and we’re currently accepting new organizations.

By Financial Health Network on August 14, 2019.

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