Mobile apps help bring financial literacy skills to overlooked groups

The writer is the author of ‘The Reset: Ideas to Change How We Work and Live’

Gone are the days when many women felt uncomfortable discussing money because they were told it was too personal or they lacked confidence. From building an emergency fund to discussing our freelance rates, my friends and I are not shy about being open about it — which is very different from how we were raised.

I wasn’t taught money management skills in school, and as I entered my twenties, I didn’t have enough knowledge to properly plan my long-term finances. I would dither when it comes to financial tasks or decisions and let’s be honest, the complexity of the financial system means those without the tools to understand it are left out.

However, practice counts and over time my peers and I have developed our financial muscles. This change is due in part to the growth of digital tools that provide education on all things money, especially among Millennials and Gen Z. To meet the needs of those who are traditionally overlooked, such as young women and minority groups.

Considered the “Duolingo of Money”, Your Juno is a financial education platform for women and non-binary people focused on Millennials and Gen Z. Founded by sisters Margot and Alexia de Broglie in 2020, its mission is to close the gender gap in financial literacy, exacerbated by discriminatory financial information aimed at women. Their app offers courses on a range of financial topics, from investing to saving for retirement, where people can learn from financial experts they can relate to.

“If you look at investment platforms, women only make up 24% of app users. But if you look at crypto, women only make up 7% of crypto holders, so instead of that gap narrowing , it’s actually getting bigger… So we really need to make sure we include women and non-binary people in the conversation and engage them early,” says co-founder Alexia de Broglie.

This is backed up by a study by US investment bank BNY Mellon, which found that if women invested at the same rate as men, today there would be at least $3.2 billion more assets under management with individuals. More importantly, the research also found that women are more likely to make investments that have positive social and environmental impacts.

The startup recently raised $2.2 million in seed funding. The round was led by InReach Ventures, alongside a board of predominantly female angel investors.

Similarly, Wealth8 is a digital investing app that launched in 2020 with the goal of making investing more accessible within the black community – and in the process, help close the racial wealth gap. According to a report by the Runnymede Trust, a racial equality think tank, for every pound of white British wealth, black African households have 10p. Wealth8 hopes to help change that.

“We cannot have true equality without economic equality – the future of black wealth is in the hands of the younger generation, so it is imperative that we provide access and education to our communities to help make making this goal of generational wealth a reality,” says Wealth8 co-founder and CEO Bimpe Nkontchou. “Our message is that everyone should have the opportunity to build wealth, even starting with as little as £8.”

She adds that with a new generation of black individuals entering the workplace, Wealth8’s mission is to educate them on how their money can work for them.

In 2021, Nina Mohanty launched Bloom Money with a simple question: how can financial services better serve migrants? Its aim is to provide fair access to migrants and refugees through an app, which Bloom hopes will receive clearance from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority by the summer.

It is refreshing to see wider representation among the new generation of financial products, as so many parts of society have been neglected by the financial industry for too long.

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Casey J. Nelson