Fintech gender equality: key highlights from Deloitte Report

Women make up half the world’s population, which is equivalent to half of humanity’s potential. Gender equality isn’t just a path to peace and harmony in society, it’s an important issue in ensuring economic growth, comprehensive development and the fulfilment of human potential. This refers to any field of activity, and fintech is no exception. There’re achievements and breakthroughs, as well as common problems — this is what I want to talk about today.

What the statistics say

According to Deloitte study, 7% of the global fintech founder community are women. Over time, this figure doesn’t change much. In 2019, the number of women-founded and cofounded fintechs reached 369, and startups founded only by men — 2,648. If we compare these indicators with the indicators of 2010, then the growth in the number of women-founded and cofounded fintechs is more significant (growing eight-fold) than that of startups founded by men (seven-fold). So today, fintechs with women as founders or cofounders comprise 12.2% of the total number of startups. There’s still something to strive for.

As for startup funding, during the last five years, funding for women-founded startups grew at a compound annual growth rate of 58.9%, while funding for men-founded grew by 29.1%. Startups founded by all women teams steadily increase funding for their projects, but the interest in fintech startups founded by men is still greater. The women-founded fintech startups have raised 50% less capital than startups founded only by men over the last five years. At the same time founding teams with both men and women averaged just 3% less funding than fintechs with only men founders. Thus, for the period from 2015 to 2019 the average investment in fintech startups founded only by women accounted for $8 million, founded by both women and men — $15.1 million, and only by men — $15.6 million.

Factors shaping such statistics

One of the reasons for this disparity may be the factor of gender bias in the VC pitching process. During a 2014 study by Harvard Business Review, men and women had been presenting identical pitches to investors, after which 68.33% of investors preferred offers and projects presented by men. Another study found that venture capitalists often posed different questions to men and women entrepreneurs: men were more likely to be asked about the potential for gains, while questions to women were more about the potential for losses. Interestingly, this happened regardless of whether the investors were men or women. Inequitable funding along with the lack of representation remains a major obstacle for women in the fintech industry.

The factors contributing to the rise of women in the startup world include an increase in the number of women working in the finance and technology industries, projects success, increased focus on gender equality, a gradual increase in the number of women in decision-making roles at VC firms, etc.

Inappropriate funding and focus on gender differences can be missed opportunities for investors. Teams with both women and men are more likely to have a broader and more accurate understanding of audience needs.

COVID-19 impact

As for all industries, the COVID-19 pandemic may negatively impact gender equality, income and economic opportunities for women for several reasons. For example, women, most commonly, are more likely than men to be employed in businesses that cannot completely go online — tourism and hospitality, retail and services, etc. Also, in most cases, women do more unpaid household work — about 2.7 hours more per day than men. And the coronavirus restrictions — school closures and caring for vulnerable elderly parents — have added chore. Women return to full employment slower with the lift of quarantine restrictions.

As for fintech, the 2008 financial crisis significantly boosted the demand for innovative solutions in the financial services industry, which likely contributed to the rise of the fintech community. As businesses are now looking to recover from the financial consequences of the pandemic, they must explore all possible ways for growth.

However, statistics so far show that the gender imbalance persists during COVID-19. In the first six months of 2020, women-founded startups raised a total of $875 million in funding, compared with $3.5 billion seen in the first half of 2019. Meanwhile, start-ups founded by men raised about $12 billion in the first half of 2020.

And this isn’t a question of the blind protection of women’s rights, but of worthy and necessary solutions that shouldn’t be missed.

CEO of the international payment system LEO, the shareholder of IBOX Bank