Migrant workers in Gulf States like the UAE often send 70 percent of their earned wages home to their families through remittances each month. When COVID-19 hit the region, the physical bank branches and remittance houses they relied on were shuttered, and migrant workers were ordered to stay home. Their families back in their home countries were left without crucial financial support.
On the third episode of VentureKast: Rebuild, CEO and co-founder of NOW Money, Katharine (“Kat”) Budd, explains that with bank branches off limits, “having access to digital finance, as long as you’ve got an internet connection, is a lifeline.” Brick-and-mortar financial institutions without robust digital services are not positioned to serve customers during the COVID-19 crisis, leaving fintechs with a unique opportunity to fill a need in the market through innovative product offerings.
Kat shares how she built NOW Money, a digital platform for low-income migrant workers to manage their money and remit money overseas to their families, to be ready to take advantage of this unprecedented acceleration in demand for digital services. She explains that, particularly for the financially underserved, “having access to digital — to be able to still send your money and manage your finances — is vital.” Fintechs not only provide competitive pricing and convenience through their digital products — what Kat calls “nice-to-haves” — but they have also built safe, consistent, and resilient banking systems that can continue operating while the pandemic prohibits physical services. Kat reminds us that fintechs are, now more than ever, essential tools in uplifting the financially underserved and those who are hit hardest by this crisis.