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Leon Kaye headshot

We Can’t Only Rely on Banks to Expand Financial Inclusion — Companies in Other Sectors Must Step Up, Too

By Leon Kaye
Financial Inclusion

More companies say they are laser-focused on financial inclusion, but we still have a long road ahead.

Recently, a leading software provider for the global financial services sector shared the results of its survey on “open banking,” the system of allowing access, sharing data and expanding the control of consumer banking through third-party applications.

At a first glance, this sounds impressive: Such sharing of data could expand financial services, inspire more innovation within the sector and disrupt banking as we know it. At the same time, companies say they are supportive of the ESG (environmental, social and governance) movement.

However, this survey only promises that financial products could proliferate — nowhere does it mention how such disruptive technologies could result with ensuring more Americans can participate in the U.S. banking system.

Here are the facts: Almost 20 million Americans are unbanked, and women of color currently score less than 1 percent of all U.S. venture capital, even though they are launching new businesses at an impressive rate, surpassing that of men.

Bottom line: We cannot expect banks to solve the financial inclusion problem. Companies in all sectors can be a part of this conversation.

Take Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, which recently launched a $20 million investment in a partnership with the women-led impact investing platform CNote. Through CNote, which has a strong record of delivering results for entrepreneurs of color, the project will generate capital for community financial institutions (CFIs), which have long been critical in supporting small businesses led by women and people of color while also funding social impact investments such as affordable housing.

Mary Mazzoni, senior editor of TriplePundit, will sit down with CNote CEO Catherine BermanJeffrey Whitford, Head of Sustainability and Social Business Innovation for the Life Science business sector of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany; and Renee Connolly, the company’s Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer and Head of Innovation HR Engagement. Join us on Wednesday, December 14 at 1 p.m. ET (or catch a recording afterward) as we discuss the benefits of investing in CFIs and how other businesses can apply this novel model to meet their diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Register for this free webcast here.

Image credit: Pexels

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

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