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The Role of Financial Technology during COVID-19

Financial technology, commonly known as fintech, is the intersection of financial services and technology. Fintech services that have become popular in recent years include mobile payments, online lending, and digital currency.

In this episode of Michigan Minds, Adrienne Harris, a Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence at the Ford School of Public Policy and a Gates Foundation Senior Research Fellow with the U-M Center on Finance, Law, and Policy, explains how financial services touch every part of the economy and how fintech plays a role during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Harris explains that fintech blossomed after the financial crisis of 2007–2008, and that part of the ethos of the industry was trying to make financial services cheaper and more effective for those on the lower end of the income spectrum.

“The unbanked, under-banked, and financially vulnerable people—that’s where a lot of fintech efforts have been oriented, but broadly it really does affect the entire financial services system and all of its users,” she says.

On the podcast, Harris also discusses the role fintech can play to assist people during the financial hardship that can come as a side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and the public health guidelines that have been put in place to help slow the spread of the virus.

“There have been numerous discussions around policymaking and financial technology to try to help people weather the economic storm we find ourselves in, and which I imagine will persist for quite some time,” Harris says. “One of the things we talk about are mobile payments. Those mobile payments now enable us to not have yet another vector for transmitting the virus. So, to the extent that you can pay for things online, and deposit checks without leaving your home, those are all innovations that fintech brought around.”

She adds that those in the financial technology industry are discussing how these innovations play a role in getting people money faster, including the checks from the government stimulus package.

Learn more in this episode of the Michigan Minds podcast.

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