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Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Fintechs embrace International Women's Day

On March 8, 2021, fintechs around the world celebrated International Women's Day, a global event honoring women's social, economic, cultural and political achievements. This year's theme, "choose to challenge," resonated with fintechs, widely known for challenging the status quo and helping those who have been traditionally bypassed by financial service providers. "A challenged world is an alert world," International Women's Day organizers wrote, adding that collective efforts to call out gender bias and inequality will help build a more inclusive world. This unifying theme was communicated across borders and channels in the fintech community.

While acknowledging that progress has been made, IWD organizers noted that achieving true gender parity may take another hundred years. "There's no place for complacency," they wrote. "According to the World Economic Forum, sadly none of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, and nor likely will many of our children."


Women's Network in Electronic Transactions (Wnet) and NYC Fintech Women kicked off the day with virtual events. Following are highlights from the morning webinars.

"Women on the Move," presented by Wnet and JPMorgan Chase & Co., honored women's achievements by sharing diverse perspectives from Chase's four operating regions.

  • Fighting for equal eights: Soccer champion Megan Rapinoe and moderator Sam Saperstein discussed competitive strategies that can help women on and off the field.

  • Creating lasting social impact: Catalina Escobar, president, JuanFe Foundation, shared her personal journey of empowering young women and children with moderator Angela Hurtado, Colombia senior country officer, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Martin Marron, chief executive officer, Latin America and Canada, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

  • Reimagining diversity, equality and inclusion: Elisabeth Moreno, minister, gender equality, diversity and equal opportunities, France, discussed current trends and initiatives with moderator Annabelle Azoulay, market manager, France wealth management, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

  • Building an educational empire: Cindy Mi, founder and chief executive officer, VIPKid, shared her vision for inclusive education with moderator Jing Ulrich, vice chairman, global banking, Asia Pacific, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

"Women in Leadership, Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World," hosted by NYC FinTech Women, Nasdaq and UN Women, began with sponsor introductions and culminated with closing comments by Brad Peterson, chief technology officer and chief information officer, Nasdaq. The agenda included the following panel discussions:

  • Advancement of women: Allison Herren Lee, acting chair of Securities and Exchange Commission and Pam Gibbs, director, Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, Security and Exchange Commission, discussed the role of government in the advancement of women.

  • Financial access: Michelle Tran, co-founder, NYC Fintech Women, moderated a panel discussion about how fintech is helping women access financial services with panelists Shivani Siroya, founder and chief executive officer, Tala; Brooke Berman, head of financial partnerships, Propel; Wim Mijs, chief executive officer, European Banking Federation and Emem Usanga, chief executive officer, Bnkability.

  • COVID-19: Anna Falth, head, Women's Empowerment Principles Secretariat, moderated a panel with Viola Llewellyn, co-founder, Ovamba Solutions; Sheena Allen, chief executive officer, CapWay and Eliane Tchikanda, head of banking operations, Stash to explore the pandemic's impact on women.

Financial inclusion

Conversations about diversity and financial inclusion continued throughout International Women's Day, underscoring the fintech community's commitment to these causes. A white paper published Feb. 4, 2021, by the Electronic Transactions Association, shows payments industry stakeholders have been working to improve access to financial services. How FinTech is Addressing the Financial Needs of the Underserved is part of the ETA's Industry Insights series.

"FIs and FinTechs broaden the availability of existing offerings by making them more accessible and lowering costs," ETA researchers wrote. "Expanding access to the financial system not only empowers consumers to take control of their financial well-being, but also creates a more resilient and inclusive economy."

The white paper indicated that technologies have played a crucial role in expanding access to financial offerings, such as prepaid products, financial literacy programs, mobile payments and banking services, Peer-2-Peer payments, expanded internet access and small business lending. Innovation in this space is providing high-quality, responsible, secure and affordable financial services, the ETA stated. A copy of the report is available at: electran.org/wp-content/uploads/2019-ETA-Whitepaper-on-the-Underserved.pdf .

Happy hour

Arkose Labs provided a fitting finale to a day of celebrations with a virtual cocktail party in honor of International Women's Day. Guests from information security and financial services joined in from around the world, sharing their views of what International Women's Day meant to them, both individually and professionally.

In opening comments, Kevin Gosschalk, chief executive officer at Arkose Labs, welcomed attendees, stating that he is grateful to Arkose Labs for doing its part to champion women.

"We put a lot of proactive effort into challenging bias in the workplace," Gosschalk said. "We have a great team at Arkose, which continues to look at metrics and makes sure that we're getting the right ratios and asking the right questions." end of article

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