Overcoming Financial Inclusion Barriers with Biometrics

All around the world, women are a powerful economic demographic, with figures putting their annual consumer value at $20 trillion [1], which is expected to grow to $28 trillion by 2028. Indeed, the total value of the female growth market over the next five years is greater than that of China and India combined.


And yet, as many financial organizations consider ways to improve access to services for underbanked groups, it is essential to recognize that financial inclusion is also a gendered issue. It is, unfortunately, the case that the majority of those currently locked out of financial services are female.

The Challenge For Marginalized Groups

Women in the developing world are particularly likely to be underbanked, with only 37% of those living in sub-Saharan Africa having their own bank account. [2] This leaves many women unable to make use of financial products and services such as pensions and insurance or to set up and run their own businesses, leaving them dependent on their male counterparts.


For refugee women, there are further challenges when it comes to achieving financial inclusion. These women are already in a vulnerable position, faced with a lack of formal identification, a lack of financial or digital literacy, and, often, a significant language barrier as they find themselves living far from home. And female refugees represent a sizeable demographic, with current figures putting their number at almost half of the 19.6 million refugees around the world and making up almost half of the 244 million migrants globally. [3] They are also less able to access essential services such as legal representation and health (including reproductive) services. This leaves such women in a precarious position, making it substantially harder for them to integrate into their new societies.

Biometric Contactless Payment Cards Can Support Inclusion

There is a way for financial institutions to support the financial inclusion of women. By opting for contactless payment cards that feature a fingerprint sensor, it is easier for financially excluded women to gain valuable independence and financial autonomy.


Using secure biometric technology, these cards are able to not only act as a simple way to pay for goods and services but also to function as a form of identification. There is no need for passwords or PINs, meaning that any woman or girl can access their own funds with ease and convenience. In turn, this offers a route to true social inclusion.


The power of biometric cards has already been recognized by countries such as Mexico, India, and Pakistan, and the technology is now being used to support Ukrainian refugees. As a versatile tool for improving female inclusion, it’s an approach that has already seen success in different areas.



[1] https://exchangepress.com/eed/news_print.php?news_id=2348

[2] https://fsdafrica.org/blog/iwd-2022/

[3] https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/women-refugees-and-migrants