Helping People Build a Stronger Financial Future
Living without a strong financial foundation can be precarious. Research from the JPMorgan Chase Institute found that expenses fluctuate by 29 percent — nearly $1,300 — on a month-to-month basis for median-income U.S. households. And a study by the Federal Reserve found that 40 percent of adults would not be able to cover an unexpected $400 expense without borrowing or selling something. The result is that many people of all income levels are one unanticipated expense away from a financial crisis that could be devastating to their families and to their health.
To address these challenges, JPMorgan Chase is supporting and scaling innovative models that help people improve their financial health — not only to manage their daily financial lives, but also to withstand unexpected shocks and realize their dreams of buying a home, paying for college and achieving their long-term goals.
That’s where The Financial Solutions Lab (FinLab) comes in. This $30 million, five-year initiative managed by the Center for Financial Services Innovation in collaboration with JPMorgan Chase hosts an annual challenge for social entrepreneurs to identify, test and bring to scale promising innovations that address the financial needs of low- and moderate-income Americans.
Making an Impact Through the Financial Solutions Lab
To date, FinLab has supported more than 30 financial technology companies from more than 1,600 total applicants. Cohort alumni are offering innovative financial products that reach over 4 million people in the U.S. and have seen 20 times user growth since joining FinLab. Collectively, FinLab companies have raised over $500 million in capital since joining the program and have helped U.S. residents save over $1 billion.
We’ve taken this successful model global. For example, this year, JPMorgan Chase has collaborated with the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad’s Centre for Innovation Incubation (IIMA-CIIE) to launch the Financial Inclusion Lab in India. The new initiative, part of IIMA-CIIE’s Bharat Inclusion Initiative (BII), which is a collaboration between J.P. Morgan, Omidyar Network, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is aimed at bringing to scale early-stage fintech startups in India that are focused on helping those who earn $2–10 a day. The Financial Inclusion Lab draws key insights from FinLab’s success and adapts them to the marketplace in India, where more than 40 percent of the population has not accessed financial services enabled by technology.
Over the next four years, JPMorgan Chase will provide up to $7 million toward this initiative — our firm’s largest single philanthropic commitment in India.
Following the U.S. model, the Financial Inclusion Lab held its first challenge in 2018. The 11 winners proposed solutions that include technology-based strategies that will make it easier for low- and middle-income people, farmers and small entrepreneurs in India to save money, get loans, create a credit score and access financial tools. The winners receive support, capital, strategic guidance, market access and mentorship to build, test and scale their products.
Navana Tech: Democratizing Technology,
One App at a Time
Mobile technology enables millions of low-income people globally to access products and services, financial tools and other resources to improve their lives. Yet almost 800 million low-literate people are unable to take advantage of these benefits.
Financial Inclusion Lab winner Navana Tech addresses this gap. The company, based in Bengaluru, India, is working to create a voice- and image-based software toolkit that will serve as a platform for companies to make their offerings more accessible to low-literate users. According to international financial inclusion consulting firm MicroSave, more than 40 percent of the Indian population has not accessed financial services enabled by technology. Navana hopes to empower more low-income, low-literate users to access the financial tools and products that can improve their financial health. The company was founded by brothers Raoul and Jai Nanavati, who now serve as the chief executive officer and chief technology officer, respectively.
Raoul Nanavati says that most mobile apps were created for literate users, but the ubiquitous texting and Western iconography leave low-literate people behind. Texting is not possible for someone who doesn’t read. And a shopping cart icon, for instance, doesn’t make any sense to a farmer from a village where there are no supermarkets because he or she might never have seen one. “This is the gap we need to fill to empower our users to be independent and confident while using their smartphones,” says Raoul Nanavati. In India, Navana is targeting farmers, rural-urban migrant workers, truckers and cab drivers, many of whom have lower than a fifth-grade education.
The Nanavati brothers are thrilled about the support from the Financial Inclusion Lab, which has been key to the company’s evolution. “The grant funding, the network and technical support have all come together to be a potent and effective mix for a company at our stage,” says Raoul Nanavati. Currently, Navana is looking to expand its seven-person team to 10 in order to reach its five-year goal of providing 150 million low-literate users with text-free tools across India, Africa and South America.
2018 India Financial Inclusion Lab Winners
Easyplan helps young Indians save money in a simple and effective way in a digital goal-based savings bank account.
ExpressMOJO offers a technology platform for small fleet owners and individual drivers/owners to directly connect with customers.
Finlok brings together communities and friends on a digital platform that allows them to save and borrow from each other.
GramCover works with insurers to create simple, affordable and easy-to-understand insurance products, using technology to deliver them to India’s rural population.
Jai Kisan has an e-commerce platform that uses multiple data points to create a credit score for small farmers and enables them to access low-cost capital to purchase discounted agri-input and equipment.
Kaarva offers quick access to small credit with a pay-what-you-like model, to help low- and middle-income-salaried customers meet short-term financial needs.
MunshiG provides an affordable and intuitive voice-based solution for small grocery stores to manage their inventory and bookkeeping.
Navana Tech uses voice-assisted and image-based digital interfaces to improve access for individuals with low levels of literacy.
SureClaim is an intelligent claim platform that helps process insurance claims.
WonderLend Hubs is a digital platform that uses financial and social data to create credit profiles, resulting in shortened turnaround times and lower rejection rates for borrowers who lack sufficient credit history.
XtraCap uses Goods and Services Tax data to assess the credit risk of small businesses, providing them access to short-term liquidity against supplier invoices.