Jefa looks to smash the "glass vault" of banking for women Latin America
Jefa looks to smash the “glass vault” of banking for women Latin America

Jefa looks to smash the “glass vault” of banking for women Latin America

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Contxto – When it comes to money, the world tends to have a male-oriented mindset. You can blame marketing and general prejudice for that. Factor in income inequality and women take the back seat when it comes to financial products specifically tailored to them.

But Jefa, an up-and-coming challenger bank, is preparing to challenge the status quo of financial services for women in Latin America with its app and card.

The startup aims to reach the entire region and Jefa currently has a waiting list open for its first stops in Costa Rica and Guatemala. The app itself should be released in a few months, according to TechCrunch.

Jefa wants to show the bank who’s boss

We’ve talked time and time again about Latin America’s unbanked population; how it’s a big market opportunity, how it’s important to promote financial inclusion, the whole shebang.

Yet I’ve yet to run into a fintech that has Latin American women as its core.

Ironically, women are often the managers of household budgets and yet they have less access to basic financial products. For example, according to the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), 54 percent of men own a bank account under their name, ousting women who stand at 49 percent.

Besides income differences between men and women, this gap can be seen as the result of bank accounts often requiring a minimum balance as well as the fact that branches aren’t necessarily within reach for female users.

These challenges posed a market opportunity for Jefa Founder and CEO, Emma Sánchez Andrade Smith, who was all too-aware of the predominantly male presence among Latam’s fintechs.

Jefa app and card

Like most fintech-related products, users can open a Jefa account for free and obtain a card. App users can complete P2P payments and set up goals for managing savings. Pretty standard stuff. 

But there are other ways in which it seeks to connect with its target audience. 

For one, it will offer a point-based rewards program for things like hygiene products or in services that are relevant to women, like visits to the gynecologist. 

Because it’s a completely digital bank, women don’t need to spend money to reach a bank branch. To top it all off, having a Jefa account doesn’t require users to maintain a minimum balance.

Related articles: Tech and startups from Central America!

-ML

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