Feb 9, 2021 - Axios Events

Axios roundtable on global financial inclusion

Hand holding an equals sign

On Friday, February 5 Axios' Dan Primack and Aja Whitaker-Moore hosted a virtual roundtable featuring policymakers, business innovators, and experts to discuss a widening divide in economic opportunity globally, uneven access to digital technology, and the realities of systemic racism.

Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of Europe, Visa Charlotte Hogg, discussed how the pandemic has made digital inclusion inextricable from financial inclusion.

  • "Whether it's individuals or businesses and all parts of the economy, if you are digitally excluded in this pandemic, you are truly excluded...if you want an inclusive recovery, you want a recovery that attracts all forms of skill sets and enables jobs. You need to think about the digitization of small businesses."

St. Paul, Minnesota Mayor Melvin Carter unpacked how financial barriers to even accessing financial services in a critical obstacle for members of the community.

  • "We have people in our community who spend a tenth of their income every month just accessing financial services. That's a challenge for us. We have people who don't know or don't think that they earn enough money to even file for their federal income tax, so they lose collectively millions of dollars on the earned income tax credits that they are entitled to."

Mahesh Uttamchandani, the Practice Manager for SME Access to Finance and Credit Infrastructures, Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation at the World Bank highlighted how mobile money is an effective bridge for people who are unbanked to access to financial services.

  • "We have found that there are some real game-changers that you can do from a policy perspective to enable [financial inclusion], particularly around enabling the use of mobile money, which for many people in developing countries is the gateway access to some kind of financial service."

President and CEO at Women's World Banking Mary Ellen Iskenderian discussed the effect of gender disparities in access to technology on financial inclusion and successful case studies in closing gender gaps in finance.

  • "Inclusion and digital are so closely linked [and] women are at a disadvantage in access to the actual technology...We also know that trust is a huge barrier for people to really enter the financial system, to really embrace financial services. How do we make sure that as we move to more of technological use, that [people] still feel a sense of trust?"

Managing Director at Cleo Capital Sarah Kunst discussed the need to prioritize access to livable wages instead of focusing exclusively on financial literacy.

  • "On the day-to-day, education doesn't get you more money. It's having a higher minimum wage. It's being paid more fairly. It's being able to schedule basic things like which hours you're working so that you can have a second job and you can bring in a little bit more income. And I think a lot of those are policy-driven".

Sarah Rosen Wartell, President of the Urban Institute, discussed how racial equity is not a separate policy issue, but rather a facet of all policy, from housing to finance to health care.

  • "We've got to think about race explicitly in all of this. So many of the things that leave black families in America with so little wealth are the creation of intentional choices and policies we've made."

Thank you Visa for sponsoring this event.

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