Financial InclusionHelen Child

Helen Child Backs Financial Inclusion for Latin America

Helen Child FI for Latin America

As a proponent of financial inclusion, Helen Child supports the need for easy access to financial services for all members of society; many experts are calling for financial inclusion as a means to pull Latin Americans out of poverty.

“Our women‚Äôs dream is to be financially independent from their husbands, but we‚Äôre not addressing that the way they want it addressed ‚Äì we‚Äôre addressing it the way we want it done.‚Äù Say Rosario Perez, president and CEO of Pro Mujer, a microfinance institution whose clients are mainly women, agreed that the consumers should be the one leading the design process since the product is targeted at them.

Rosario Perez is driving chance that according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is long overdue. Latin America is the world’s longest suffering continent in terms of financial inequality. Financial inclusion is cause close to my heart. I support the need for easy access to financial services for all members of society; many experts are calling for financial inclusion as a means to pull Latin Americans out of poverty.

Financial Inclusion is the Way Forward…

The World Bank’s recent Findex paper has shown financial inclusion to be the way forward, with sixty million Latin Americans becoming financially inclusive over the last four years. However, with 200 million people still lacking access to basic financial services, their target of universal access for the continent by 2020 is now perhaps somewhat ambitious.

The Guardian, in association with Visa, recently hosted a discussion against the backdrop of the World Economic Forum on Latin America. Here, experts discussed the importance of delivering more than just the basic financial services to the people, instead focusing on matching the banks products with their customer needs.

Carlo Labarthe Costas, CEO of Mexico-based financial institution Gentera SAB de CV, raised concerns about the lack of understanding for basic financial products: “Many of the things we do are supply driven. We want [people] to have debit cards, for example, but the problem is they don’t care about them. We have to be closer to the client.”

On a similar theme, Andrés Peñate, senior vice-president of corporate affairs at SABMiller, said that tapping into the mom and pop stores sector (small family-run businesses) would be the best way to connect the private sector to consumers:

“The people on low incomes that we’ve spoken to desperately want financial support for when a relative dies. Whoever invents a micro-insurance product for funeral services and can make it affordable for mom and pop stores to sell will be a hero.”

A Distrust in the Banking System

María Luisa Martínez Dibarboure, assistant to the CEO at mobile bank $ero, raised concerns over the lack of trust in banks as a key issue for people on the fringes of financial services. This issue was accentuated by Elaine Smith, founder of #ProgressoSocial Brasil Network, who added that building trust alone was not enough.

It’s one thing offering affordable financial services to low-income families, but providing financial education is of equal importance: “It’s been almost two decades since the Brazilian government tried to implement a government subsidies scheme,” she said.

Options for financial education were raised at the meeting. Experts endorsing Peru as an example of a nation which has set the standards for financial education, which is taught at primary school level in the South American nation. The vision for 2020 is one where financial education and inclusion filter down from the large companies to everyone in their supply chain.

Daniel Runde, director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, commented on the need to begin financial education from the ground up, saying new models for financial inclusion will continue to emerge: “Just as people are taught how to drive a car, people will be educated on how to use a credit card and other services.”

Thanks for reading…

Helen Child

Helen Child is the founder and former CEO of the UK’s first E Money License Issuer to be awarded Prepaid Issuing status by both MasterCard & Visa.

Helen is the leading consultant at Striding Edge and heads an experienced team of prepaid card and payments experts. Through her Striding Edge consultancy, Helen provides strategic and practical support to banks and organisations that are seeking to develop or increase their footprint in the European market.

Voted by Paybefore readers as one of the leading ladies in Prepaid.¬† She is a published author and industry speaker. A founding member of the Prepaid International Forum; the global, not for profit prepaid card industry forum.¬† She’s proudly served as a Council Member of Lancaster University.

To find out more about Helen, please visit

Helen has designed a comprehensive guide to Prepaid Currency Cards (FX Cards). View the guide here.