“Having debt is stressful because there is a point where you can’t see how you can get out of it,” says Juan Carlos. He just wanted to maintain a lifestyle for his family, but as he had increasingly relied on credit cards, he soon found himself mired in debt and started to lose sleep every night worrying about his debt. Would he ever be able to pay it off? Would he still be able to take care of his family’s needs? Would it hurt his business?
When Juan Carlos found Accion partner Destacame in 2015, he was struggling to tackle his financial problems: “My life was really complicated and deep in debt, so I reached a stage where I was looking for someone to help me open my horizons, help me reorganize in this area, and help me to get out of the hole.” His debt felt insurmountable, but as he entered all of his accounts into Destacame’s platform, he began to feel a sense of hope. “It made me realize that I could organize myself; it was a huge change in my life,” says Juan Carlos.
Juan Carlos’ story is a good example of why helping people build their financial capability is a critical consideration for financial inclusion. “Sometimes you look for loans, and the banks won’t give you one, and sometimes you are not looking, but suddenly you get credit cards approved for so much money,” he says. People don’t just need access to financial tools — they need to be able to use these tools in a way that improves their lives.
Destacame’s market research has revealed that Juan Carlos isn’t an outlier — far too many of its middle- and low-income users don’t fully understand the financial system or how to pick financial products that will be beneficial for them. That’s why the fintech company is currently working with Accion’s Global Advisory Solutions team to make its platform even more customized and straightforward for users so they can set, visualize, and work toward their goals, using personalized nudges, tips, and incentives. This effort is part of Accion’s project with Metlife Foundation to work with financial service providers and leverage technology so that everyday people in Latin America can strengthen their financial capability.
For Juan Carlos, Destacame’s intuitive platform is already making a difference in his life. He appreciates how simple it is to use: “It’s a wonderful and efficient tool for me. Nowadays you sit at your computer, and you do everything online. You don’t have to go out — if you want to make a payment, you can do it online.”
It was hard at first, but Juan Carlos adjusted his expenses and applied all of the money he saved to paying off his bills. Today, he has conquered his debt and is living a life that makes him proud: “I am at peace. I Iive my life more relaxed. We live a happy life with our children.”