Finexos’s Darren Smith on Financial Inclusion

by ewanrobertson

Increasing financial inclusion is vital in supporting the financial wellbeing of individuals and SMEs and to drive economic growth.

In the UK, the government plays a crucial role in enabling financial inclusion. For example the House of Commons Treasury Committee Inquiry into SME Finance, the establishment of the Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT) last year, as well as the UK’s Economic Secretary’s announcement of a new industry-led Open Finance Taskforce focused on how financial data can be safely unlocked to improve SMEs’ access to credit.

By leveraging open banking data, and other alternative data sources, we can improve inclusion by assessing creditworthiness for those who may not have traditional credit histories. Analysing real-time financial data such as income, spending patterns, and banking transactions allows lenders to make more accurate lending decisions and extend credit to individuals who were previously underserved or excluded from traditional financial services.

HMRC tax data can also improve lending decisions for SMEs by 25%, as demonstrated in the recent CFIT proof-of-concept led by HSBC. The trailblazing Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) makes it possible to test these novel approaches through their Innovation Hub’s Permanent Digital Sandbox, Innovation Pathways and Regulatory Sandbox services.

Lastly, financial inclusion can be undoubtedly propelled further through new technologies that improve access to financial services for individuals in remote areas, streamline the application process for loans and credit, and enable more accurate assessment of creditworthiness for underserved populations. From mobile banking apps to digital payment platforms, as well as artificial intelligence for alternative credit scoring, there is exciting tech that can expand financial inclusion and improve financial wellness and resilience.

Darren Smith

Executive Director Finexos, an FDATA Europe Member