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WEF 2023: Financial Inclusion Beyond Access

Despite progress over the past decade, 24% of adults remain unbanked, and about only half of all adults in developing economies can access funds within 30 days to cover an unexpected expense. So the question remains: how can we increase inclusion for the financially underestimated?

At the 2023 World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting, Tala’s CEO & founder, Shivani Siroya, joined global leaders to discuss this. Together with United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, The Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief Matthew Murray, State Bank of India Chairman Dinesh Kumar Khara, and Visa CEO & Chairman Alfred Kelly Jr, they examined how technology innovations and cross-sector collaboration can help deliver quality financial services to underserved individuals and businesses. 

Here are some of Shivani’s insights for increasing inclusion for the financially underestimated: 

Take the first risk

We really believe that trust is a feedback loop. By lending to our customers, we are taking that first risk and truly putting the power in their hands. And, if they find value in that, they will repay us, and they will trust us again. We think of that not just as our customer value, but actually as our company value.”

By solving for our customers’ most pressing concern, which tends to be access to credit, we’re able to build trust with our customers. From there, we continue to build on that trust by providing more services for them. To learn more about how Tala takes the first risk for our customers, check out Shivani’s conversation on Inc’s What I Know Podcast.

Be grounded in the local context 

Financial agency for the underserved is very much about customization. We cannot create a blanket product — we can create global infrastructure, but it does truly need to be grounded in the market context.”

We’ve always believed that we needed to be close to our customers to best serve them, so Tala is built with deep-local knowledge with global support. More than half of our employees are from the countries we operate in, bringing localized insights and proximity to the customers we support. Then, as a global company, we’re able to bring in insights from other markets and still be responsive to each market’s unique dynamics. 

Go beyond access into agency

Financial agency, yes, is about access, but ultimately is about having choice and control over your full financial life.”

The majority of Tala’s customers are utilizing a digital loan for the first time. We’re able to give these customers access to financial services that are unattainable elsewhere. While access is the entry to financial inclusion, we can’t stop there. To truly build financial agency, customers need choice and control. Tala creates choice by offering an ecosystem of financial services that meet their unique needs, and we enable customer control by providing experiences that build confidence, provide mental relief, and empower people to take charge of their financial lives.

We’re grateful to the World Economic Forum for providing Tala a platform alongside other changemakers who have the power to move beyond just expanding access to financial services and actually enabling financial agency. Check out the WEF 2023 Financial Inclusion Beyond Access panel to learn more. 

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