In 2020, we conducted research into how the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic was impacting women in the UK. As a result, we held a Women’s Economic Empowerment TechSprint and Conference on 22-25 March 2021. During the conference, 9 teams presented solutions for improving financial access, inclusion and resilience for women and vulnerable consumers using financial services.
Over 4 days, 140 participants worked in teams to tackle 4 use cases:
- How can innovation support the secure identification and sharing of traditional and non-traditional data?
- How can we create a reliable and secure verification of identity and/or creditworthiness for women who are underbanked or locked out?
- How can market participants access this secure verification without compromising privacy and security?
- How can technology help women understand and manage their finances during periods of uncertainty, or change to support their future financial resilience and security?
The solutions developed
9 teams presented their solutions to an audience of regulators, academics, technology companies and financial institutions. As with previous techsprints, the solutions were awarded prizes by a judging panel, with the teams being assessed on criteria including potential market readiness and effectiveness, creativity and the quality of their presentation.
Every penny is a seedling
This solution is aimed at vulnerable women who are potentially experiencing economic abuse or domestic violence and wish to save money without detection from their abuser. The solution sifts a proportion of a payment or salary into a hidden savings account. The account doesn’t appear within online banking and transactions are hidden on statements or receipts. This allows the vulnerable person to build up a savings pot that cannot be accessed by their abuser.
Finding Nora used machine learning to identify financially disempowered women in relationships. Using clustering and algorithms, they grouped women based on possible risk of abuse. Within that group they could use additional information like transactional history to pinpoint people who may need help. This would allow banks to proactively identify those at risk and create solutions to support them.
Florence and the Jane
Florence and the Jane gives vulnerable women the opportunity to realise that they may be falling into debt and the tools to tackle it before it becomes problem debt. Working with banks, they provide an algorithm to locate their customers with bad loans from their banking transactional data, and send them a targeted pop up within online banking services, offering support.
Joint Bank Accounts
Joint Bank Accounts used a pseudo account to join 2 separate bank accounts to create a joint payment account. Each co-payee starts with their own individual accounts and when they need to set up shared expenses, they input the details into the pseudo account, detailing the account name ie rent and the percentage split of each account if not 50/50. This removes the need to share an account and the difficulties currently faced if relationships break down or there is financial abuse within a relationship.
Reimagining Financial Services
The Chikara platform is a secure community-based banking solution that enables survivors of domestic abuse to build an independent financial foundation unique to their needs. Presented as a period tracker it is a portal into financial services, reimagining the first stage of onboarding and providing victims a way to feel empowered in their finances. Using alternative credit scoring and a disguised front end, the app allows women to discreetly access financial services.
Safely is a life tool that include financial resilience but also access to information on food banks and shelters to provide vulnerable consumers with a full range of tools and information. Safely aims to provide an integrated information hub that both the financial sector and also customers in need can access. It aims to signpost, the appropriate help and information in a single, integrated platform.
Using alternative credit scoring, build a social digital identity to allow more vulnerable people to access financial services. In addition to the alternative view of credit rating, the tool would also use community advocates that would provide a reference for the person trying to access services. The app allows the user to scan in documents and proof of creditworthiness and showcase alternative credit references to build their profile.
What if women built a bank?
Hilda is an intuitive financial platform that will give women a complete view of their finances for the very first time. A dashboard provides a financial health score and allows her to easily visualise how she spends and saves. The platform is powered by account aggregation and transaction categorisation which supports empathetic human, financial coaches who are available on demand to women by text, video or phone. Hilda is underpinned by relationships with incredible support services available to women in the UK, who can help our coaches understand the vulnerability triggers and advise the algorithms and data recognition.
Well-Fair, the fair and wellness app that provides a disguised incognito mode platform, enables women to build a secure portable identity, discreetly record incidents of abuse, have control on their own data and connect with a wider support ecosystem, such as banks, emergency cash, shelter, health care, and benefits, for both reactive and proactive help. The app leverages technology to transform these highly manual and non-standard attestations into strong points of identity verification, ensuring vulnerable people get access to the services they need quickly.