Can digitization drive financial inclusion?

Do you remember the first time you checked your account balance online? Or applied for a credit card from the comfort of your couch? Wasn’t it a little bit mind-blowing?

Now, unless we’re dealing with the temporary inconvenience of a storm, having access to digital financial services is simply the norm. It’s no longer a privilege but an expectation … for most of us.

Today, 1.4 billion people still woke up without access to financial services of any type. For them, digitized services are an unimaginable luxury.

This leaves roughly one-in-five people around the globe without capital, yes, but also without critical resources like financial education and understanding—the fundamental building blocks of long-term financial wellness.

Opportunity in adversity

The world ground to a halt in early 2020. With physical contact no longer an option, countless financial organizations—credit unions included—finally invested in digital services, bringing financial access to some 200 million additional people.

That is an incredible feat by any standard, but it took apocalyptic conditions to catalyze that change. We can’t afford to wait for another pandemic to bring financial inclusion to all. The Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions is calling on the global credit union system to maintain that energy and investment in digitization, and use it to support other communities facing untenable adversity.

In Africa and Europe, digitization is driving inclusion

As the war in Ukraine rages on, expanding digitization across the nation’s credit unions has been vital to supporting resiliency and providing some semblance of normalcy to millions of citizens caught up in the bloody conflict.

With your support, the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions is helping these war-torn credit unions increase digital lending, enhance cybersecurity and bring critical financial services to small businesses, agricultural workers and displaced people in horrific conditions.

Thousands of miles away, the Technology and Innovation for Financial Inclusion (TIFI) program is helping digitize services in three African countries—Burkina Faso, Kenya and Senegal—expanding financial access to small businesses and female entrepreneurs.

TIFI’s integrated digitization readiness assessment, roadmap and lending toolkit has already extended 2,000 loans worth over $29.6 million. At least 45% of female members in 22 pilot credit unions have benefited from the services and resources TIFI helped make possible.

Members helping members

I’ve shared just a few of the ways digitization is enhancing financial access. Celebrating stories like this is precisely why International Credit Union Day was established 75 years ago. This year, to honor that milestone anniversary, we’ve created an easy (and fun!) way to bring financial inclusion to even more around the globe.

Our Members Helping Members fundraising campaign is a great way to have a little fun with philanthropy. We’re encouraging credit union advocates the world over to indulge in a little cooperative competition: To throw down a fundraising challenge to another person, team or even credit union, and harness the full power of People Helping People.

There is no doubt, digitization is changing lives. Your support can bring it to countless more.


Contact the author: Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions

Contact the author: Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions

Mike Reuter

Mike Reuter

Mike Reuter is the Executive Director of the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, the 501c3 charitable nonprofit that supports the World Council of Credit Unions in its mission of providing ... Web: Details