Melinda Gates wants greater access for women to digital financial tools

“It’s a source of frustration that the original target audience for which Super Rewards was created (women on maternity leave or stay-at-home carers) has been slow or reluctant to embrace it – especially when participation is free,” says Pascale Helyar- Moray, Managing Director of Super Rewards.

“We attribute this to a relatively short-term perspective where the user is simply focused on getting through the next month or a few months or the next year; It’s hard to think too far beyond that.

“The unfortunate reality is that by the time these users realize their super is missing, it’s probably too late to make a meaningful difference that impacts their retirement outcomes.”

Super Rewards is just one of a handful of Australian fintech companies trying to use digital tools to help women erase financial inequalities in Wealth and Super. Other companies include Super Fierce and Blossom App.

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Lack of literacy

The OECD cites a lack of financial literacy among women worldwide as one of the main reasons behind the existence of a digital gender gap, as this often translates into a lack of convenience in using technology and accessing the internet.

“These fintechs are doing such a great service to Australian women, but a big part is actually getting women to continue being involved with their money and understand the basics that we’re just not being taught unless we’re searching afterwards, or are lucky enough to have someone explain it to us,” says Molly Benjamin, founder of the 55,000-strong network Ladies Finance Club.

“If they don’t understand the basics of their super, they won’t see the great service these companies provide – they don’t know what they won’t know.”

The other factor potentially slowing progress is a lack of women developing financial technology solutions.

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The proportion of women founding fintechs in Australia is just 24 percent, according to a study by Fintech Australia and EY.

One of the biggest challenges for female tech founders is funding expansion, and this makes marketing to the masses extremely difficult.

“worsely represented”

A new study by Deloitte for SBE Australia found that despite growing support and attention, female founders in Australia receive just 0.7 per cent of private sector funding.

David Rumbens, Partner at Deloitte Access Economics, blames embedded gender bias, rather than potential investment returns or business fundamentals, as the main reason women founders starve for funding.

“What we’re seeing here is consistent with gender gaps in the wider labor market, not just in entrepreneurship,” he says.

“The gender gap in entrepreneurship widens moving from the number of founders to the value of funding. This pattern is reflected in the lower representation of women at increasing levels of leadership in large organizations and in investment decisions.

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“The fact that this pattern exists indicates that the problems encountered in entrepreneurship are not all unique to start-ups and reflect broader gender inequalities in business and society.”

The portrayal of gender bias in financing opportunities for women entrepreneurs is arguably a missed opportunity for economic and business growth.

This is certainly something that needs to be addressed if we are to better support women in gaining access to the digital financial tools that aim to eliminate inequalities.

So what can be done to bridge the digital gender gap?

  1. We must encourage greater enrollment of women in financial education programs in schools and during key milestones such as career start, career breaks and pre-retirement.
  2. We need more support for FinTechs aimed at tackling gender inequalities.

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