Fintech Tools & Digital Skills: looking at financial education through a digital lens [Recap]
On Wednesday 14 March in Brussels the EBF organised a half-day seminar in the context of European Money Week: Fintech Tools & Digital Skills. The aim of this event was to look at financial education from a digital perspective. Considering, that we already spend and check our account balances increasingly online, money will certainly be more virtual in the nearby future. When financial services really are becoming that digital, how does this affect we understand and manage our money (and sometimes that of others).
On a global scale, banks and fintech startups are actively developing innovative mobile and software applications that make financial services more user-friendly and improve financial well-being.
The first part welcomed five Fintech entrepreneurs from different European countries who each showed how their products are helping users to make better financial decisions.
Sweden-based Tink has developed a personal finance management application that aggregates data from different banks and lets you track your expenses and income. Otly from the Netherlands and UK-based Rooster Money both invented smart ways to let children interact with their money virtually. Through a mobile application or an addition to existing bank interfaces these two companies teach young kids to receive pocket money and basic concepts such as debt, interest and saving for the future. All with control of the parents.
Not only consumers but also financial professionals and banking clients, are now on the brink of using many digital tools. Bulgarian startup Klear Lending built a peer-to-peer lending platform while helping its clients to manage their debt and risk. Spanish venture Inbonis demonstrated how SME’s can be helped and educated by assessing and reporting credit risk in a simple way.
After these interesting Fintech tools it was time to discuss the digital skills gap in Europe. Because while technology looks very promising the end-user still needs to be able to use all the tools at their disposal. There is one fundamental problem to be tackled: 44% of Europeans lack basic digital skills.
In a panel discussion moderated by Senior Adviser Cybersecurity, Digital Skills, Social Affairs Alexandra Maniati, policy makers and industry representatives expressed the need for more digital competences among Europeans, especially since 90% of future jobs will require some level of digital skills.
Santander Bank provided insights into the best practices of the banking industry and stressed out that technology provides many opportunities for financial inclusion and customer experience but also brings challenges on the end-user side in terms of cybersecurity and digital capabilities.
From the European Commission the two departments DG Education and DG Connect were represented, who both emphasised two main initiatives that aim to bring more digital skills to European citizens. In the recently launched Digital Education Action Plan the European Commission integrated digital courses in school curricula in Europe. With the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, where EBF is part of, the Commission brings together the public and private sector and foster more skills in the working population, for example with Digital Opportunity Traineeships. All Digital represented IT training institutions across Europe and showed how EU initiatives are executed in the Member States.
Looking back at a successful European Money Week with many new insights, the EBF looks forward to future initiatives of its members and of policy makers to keep on promoting financial and digital education.