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EMERGE conference promotes financial inclusion for underserved
The EMERGE conference brought together stakeholders to network and generate ideas for the financially underserved market.
Last month more than 700 advocates, policymakers, bankers, financial technology innovators and other industry professionals attended the American Banker and Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) EMERGE conference in Austin, TX. The conference brought stakeholders together to network, generate ideas and advance innovations in consumer financial health. The theme of this year's conference was “Insight, Innovation, Inclusion” for the financially underserved market.
Consumer Action's Audrey Perrott attended the event and reported back that "the EMERGE conference was an amazing experience from start to finish, with great panelists, timely presentations, countless networking opportunities and many interactive activities to keep attendees engaged.”
On day one, Perrott attended a pre-conference policy lunch. The session emphasized how institutions, innovators and regulators must work together to create quality products that improve consumer financial health. The discussion included how stakeholders can adopt better strategies to help financial institutions navigate the regulatory ecosystem.
During the luncheon, CFSI announced that it had conducted a financial health study, Understanding and Improving Consumer Financial Health in America. The study surveyed more than 7,000 households, revealing that 40 percent of Americans are struggling to make ends meet. The results emphasized that there are more factors involved in financial health than just the commonly researched areas of education, income and credit scores.
Perrott also attended a pre-conference session on underbanked and underserved populations. The session revealed that 47 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 saved, 58 percent have difficulty covering expenses and bills, 45 percent failed to save any earned income in 2012 and 61 percent of households lacked the recommended “rainy day fund” to cover three months of expenses in case of emergency.
Attendees went on to discuss how to develop innovative solutions to improve consumer financial health. Steven Wright of the San Francisco-based nonprofit EARN presented the agency's incentive savings program as a way to help consumers learn how to start a savings account. Alison Holt of Regions Bank discussed the Regions Now Card, a reloadable prepaid card that doesn’t allow overdrafts, so there are no related fees or interest charges for spending more than you have. Tony Chang of Visa Inc. outlined the company's prepaid card quality standards and its outstanding work in financial education.
“The EMERGE conference brought some of today’s greatest innovators together,” says Perrott. “I was honored to hear them share their ideas and outline all of the amazing investments they’ve made in helping consumers of all socioeconomic backgrounds navigate our increasingly complicated financial landscape.”
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