The creation of accessible and affordable financial practices accelerated during the pandemic, according to a new whitepaper published by the Electronic Transaction Association (ETA), the trade association for the payments technology industry. The paper, “Creating a More Inclusive Economy: How Fintech Advances Digital Resources for Underserved Communities,” highlights payments industry initiatives that broadened participation in the financial system while helping the economy recover and grow.
A strong majority of Americans (88 percent) now use fintech, up from 58 percent in 2020, and more than half say they can’t live without using technology to manage their finances, according to research from ETA member Plaid.
“ETA members played a leading role bringing swift financial aid and innovative offerings to businesses, consumers, and underserved communities when it was needed most,” says Jodie Kelley, CEO of ETA. “As the leading trade association for the digital transactions industry, ETA encourages policymakers to support continued innovation and the use of technology to improve financial outcomes for all members of society.”
The paper highlights advancements in payments technology that are making services more available, accessible and affordable than ever before. These include:
- COVID-19 Pandemic Economic Relief – The electronic payments industry facilitated billions of dollars in benefits quickly and securely, providing urgently needed relief to individuals and small businesses.
- Open Finance –Gave consumers convenient ways to manage their finances while providing them control over who can access their financial data.
- Prepaid Products – Provided convenient payment options for millions of consumers with limited or no access to traditional financial accounts.
- Nontraditional Payments – Enabled choice for cashing a paycheck or transferring funds between individuals through solutions to manage, move, and spend money conveniently and cost-effectively.
- Financial Literacy & Readiness Programs – Educated adults and teens on today’s modern financial products and services landscape, giving them knowledge and tools to manage finances, use fintech, and invest for the future.
- Mobile Banking Services & Innovations in ADA Compliance – Allowed financial independence and security for those demographic groups that lack easy access to physical FI branches, such as consumers in rural areas, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities.
- Mobile Payments – Allowed consumers to pay for goods and services safely and cost-effectively while enabling greater financial literacy by enabling consumers to manage their accounts from their mobile phones.
- Peer-2-Peer Payments – P2P technology changed the way individuals exchange money with each other by enabling the secure, instantaneous transfer of funds via mobile applications.
- Cross Border Payments – Empowered consumers with cheaper, faster, and more accessible international payments by transforming the global financial landscape.
- Expanded Internet Access – Expanded internet access offered affordable internet access in underserved communities domestically and abroad by improving infrastructure and reducing costs.
- Online Small Business Lending – Expanded access to credit and offered affordable alternatives to traditional loans for small businesses seeking to grow.
- Interactive, Automated Tellers – FIs transformed traditional branches — establishing a new model with a smaller physical footprint, offering a wider range of services at more convenient times.
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – ETA members created an environment where every colleague can be themselves and truly feel included.
“All individuals and businesses have come to expect speed, simplicity and, most of all, reliability when it comes to accessing, spending, investing, and saving money,” says Kelley. “ETA members have raised the bar, meeting and exceeding expectations during a crucial moment in history. The progress made these past two years is going to continue to reap great dividends for society in the future.”