May 2, 2014
In today's world of Internet banking, smartphone shopping apps and web-based access to investment accounts, it's easy to forget that billions of people around the world – including millions in our own country – lag far behind when it comes to accessing even the most rudimentary financial management tools.
Indeed, according to the World Bank:
These statistics helped form the backdrop for the eighth annual Financial Literacy and Education Summit hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Visa Inc. Renowned U.S. and international financial experts led lively discussions around the theme, "Providing Financial Literacy Resources to the Unbanked and Underbanked." Approximately 1,500 participants in 50 countries attended or watched the live online telecast.
Central to the discussions was the underlying question: "Is financial education important for a segment of the population that is largely excluded from formal financial services?" According to Keynote Speaker Bill Sheedy, EVP, Corporate Strategy, M&A and Government Relations, Visa, and the other panelists, the answer is an unqualified "yes."
"Providing these adults with useful, scalable and accessible financial services is just one piece of the puzzle," said Sheedy. "They need to know how to use these products wisely and have the skills and confidence to manage their money soundly. The only way we can be successful in bringing these 2.5 billion people into the economic mainstream is to provide them with financial education long before they ever acquire account numbers."
Along with identifying numerous challenges unbanked and underbanked people face, panelists also cited successful financial education efforts they've observed:
Bottom line: Tremendous technological advances are being made around personal financial management. Our challenge is to find ways to bring those tools – and basic financial services – to vast populations of underserved individuals. A parallel challenge is to continue developing and distributing financial education materials that enable children and adults to understand how to manage their money.
To watch a free webcast of the 2014 Financial Literacy and Education Summit, visit www.practicalmoneyskills.com/summit2014.
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