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WACUNA: AGM with speaker Lemona Chanda on Financial and Digital Literacy

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After the business meeting Lemona Chanda spoke on “The lack of financial and digital literacy in the UK and globally – and the challenges due to Covid-19”. She is a lawyer and works at the Financial Conduct Authority supervising the regulations of European Investment Banks. Lemona is the Founder of OurCause She has launched the Global Activists Network (GAN), and her “Build Africa” initiative is a Pan-African initiative addressing the most pressing challenges faced by the continent including sexual violence, teenage pregnancy, childhood marriages. She is the Ethnic Minority Future Leader in the UK, the UN Champion for Change working for women empowerment and the UNA Women’s Officer working on issues faced by women. Thus her presentation is authoritative and significant. To read the full presentation ask WAC-UNA to give you the link. Basically she described how advances in technology are leaving many at a disadvantage in dealing with their financial and other digital affairs. Covid-19 has made matters worse. For example some do not go on-line for banking and need cheques or cash or help paying bills. Travel and claiming benefits can be a problem. Those most at risk are women (more so than men), the poor, uneducated, older, disabled or sick people, those with cognitive difficulties. etc. Only 30% of bank customers aged 70+ are registered to use internet banking. Women need to be financially independent. In Africa, South America and the UK there are millions who have never used the internet. Many do have access to mobile phones, but their education has not prepared them to make sound financial decisions, and they are easily caught out by fraudsters. The solutions for preventing so many being left behind due to lack of financial and digital literacy, lie in the hands of those who supply the services. They should ensure customers’ personal information is not stolen, that advertising is not misleading, that information is clear, readable, understandable and not hidden in the small print of documents. So starting with children as young as five years old, they need to be taught the value of money, how to make sound financial decisions (so they do not later run into debt), also how to resist aggressive marketing, stay safe from scams, fraud and identity theft. Besides the government, Lemona‘s ideas are to use volunteers go into schools to help, and if one person shared their knowledge with 5 friends, then they did the same, it would cascade and be possible to scale up their work for thousands of schools. Lemona said that if we set up the systems right in one place that would be a good example for others to follow. Then after their formal education, they need friendly community outreach programmes nearby, to teach the basics of technology and how to cope with its regular updates and changes, offering advice. Vulnerable groups might be offered workshops for training and staying aware of dangers. Caring people must be available to talk one-to-one, offer mobile-banking, or even to offer door-to-door services for them. Coordinated approaches are necessary between industries, national and local government and digital skills programmers to seamlessly consolidate multi-channel customer journeys.