The conversation about refugees in Europe has shifted from crisis management to integration. As families fleeing violence and persecution settle in their new countries for the long run, one of the most important, if under-reported, questions is how to integrate refugees into the financial systems of their new countries. The ability to get paid, pay rent, buy groceries, or transfer money to and from family members back home are all building blocks toward integration.
Despite the European Union’s refugee-friendly banking laws, traditional financial institutions have struggled to accommodate refugees as a new and expanding customer base. Village Capital’s early research, including interviews with more than 40 people working in this field, has shown that even though services do exist, they do not necessarily cover all user needs. Available services are often too basic, difficult to access, or prohibitively expensive.
Entrepreneurs are well-positioned to fill this gap in services and access. Fintech startups tend to be more flexible than big banks, and better able to focus on a niche audience.
Given this unique opportunity to improve access to finance for refugees in Europe, Village Capital is launching the inaugural Fintech Solutions for Refugees program in partnership with PayPal to identify key challenges as well as transformative solutions that could increase financial access to refugees across Europe.