What does Financial Citizenship mean and why is it important?

Autor: Elias Sfeir
Presidente Executivo-ANBC e Conselheiro Certificado-Promovendo a Disciplina de Crédito e Governança Corporativa-Brasil

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In democratic systems, the concepts of Citizenship and State have expanded.

Traditionally, Citizenship gives people the right to participate in decisions that affect social well-being in exchange for responsible behavior within society.

Financial Citizenship

But in societies experiencing a growing financialization of economic resources, that are fundamental to well-being and prosperity, citizenship can only be exercised if the financial system is conceived as something exogenous to democratic politics. In a financialized society, if we are not financial citizens, we are unquestionably not citizens.

Financial Citizenship is carried out through three main stages:

• Financial inclusion: a process that gives access and visibility to products and services of the economy materialized through the financial system. Cadastro Positivo is one of the most effective processes for this inclusion.

• Products and services offer: availability that suits the needs and accessibility of the citizen.

• Financial education: a framework of knowledge and good practices that fosters inclusion based on responsible financial behavior, thus enabling the sustainability of Citizenship.

In short, with Financial Citizenship, citizens have access to adequate financial products and services. In addition, they have the opportunity, ability and confidence, through appropriate support and advice, to make informed decisions about their financial circumstances. And that is the minimum condition necessary to effectively organize your finances in society.

Currently, there are about 2 billion people economically active who have no visibility in the financial system. This large contingent, which represents more than 25% of the global population, does not benefit from the Financial Citizenship. For example, they don’t benefit of:

•  Daily transactions such as sending and receiving money;

• Creation of safeguard economies, which can help households to manage cash flow spikes, create working capital and consume in a sustainable way;

• Financing to micro and small businesses, helping owners to invest in assets and increase their business;

• Planning and payment of recurring expenses, such as school fees;

• Mitigation of shocks and management of expenses related to unexpected events such as medical emergencies, death in the family, robbery or natural disasters;

• Improvement of general well-being.

I also highlight the State’s involvement in the process described, but this subject will remain for the next post.