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A focus on financial inclusion

Anne Pieckielon, Director of Product and Strategy, BacsPosted on 12 October 2017

​Financial inclusion is an area which has, quite rightly, moved up the agenda over the last couple of years and is a topic which continues to draw healthy debate from all quarters.

This continued focus can only be of benefit in helping us all in the payments sector, and wider industry, in effectively tackling the barriers preventing some consumers from accessing and getting the most from financial and banking services.

At Bacs, our approach is quite simple. As the organisation behind Direct Debit, Bacs Direct Credit and the Current Account Switch Service, we have a responsibility to use our unique position at the centre of UK payments to influence positive change. We are passionate about ensuring better outcomes for all, now and in the future.

Just last month, we partnered with the Social Market Foundation (SMF) to investigate how the market is working for vulnerable consumers. The research identified three core groups who are especially challenged: the digitally excluded, repeat overdraft users and the unbanked, recognising that we could all be vulnerable at any point in our lives, due to market or personal changes.

To help launch the report I was pleased to join an SMF panel event to discuss not just the findings, but what we can do as an industry, and further afield, to ensure that we are delivering for all. You can find out more about what was a wide-ranging discussion by clicking here.

Ultimately, collaboration and innovation are going to be key to realising the step-change we all want to see. There must also be an acceptance that those working across the payments and financial services industries have a crucial role to play in putting the needs of consumers first.

And, as we move forward, the potential of initiatives such as open banking and the Second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) must be fully exploited as a catalyst for greater inclusion. The opportunities and challenges that we’ll all face in the months and years ahead will provide what might well be a once in a generation chance to move the dial on financial inclusion, and we should all be excited by that.