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.
"Through the Financial Solutions Lab, JPMorgan Chase is leveraging our consumer insights and industry experience to promote financial security. Our goal is to improve Americans’ financial health by supporting scalable, digital products and by looking for ways to extend these insights and solutions globally."
Jed Laskowitz, CEO, Intelligent Digital Solutions, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
"The Financial Inclusion Lab will leverage technology and develop innovative solutions that will allow India’s underserved communities to better access financial services that are appropriate for their financial needs. Our global presence, scale and successful Financial Solutions Lab model in the U.S. provide us with unique insight into these issues and the ability to approach them comprehensively and remove barriers to economic opportunity."
Kalpana Morparia, CEO, South and South East Asia, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
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.