Promoting Indigenous Financial Inclusion: Improving ICT Access Within Rural Australia

Promoting Indigenous Financial Inclusion: Improving ICT Access Within Rural Australia

Michael D'Rosario (Deakin University, Burwood, Australia)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/IJISSC.2018040101


This article describes how the majority of Australia's indigenous communities live within isolated regions and are typically characterized by levels of disadvantage not evidenced within mainstream Australian society. While there are a number of reasons for the evidenced disadvantages, access to financial services and social services are acknowledged as key contributors. The article outlines the role of banking sector competition and changing banking structures on the exclusion of indigenous people from banking services. It is claimed herein that access, marketing, price, and self-exclusion all serve to promote financial exclusion. It is posited that forms of access exclusion such as bank branch access and geographic dispersion have served as the key structural impediments to indigenous financial inclusion. Specifically, this article considers the potential role of adaptive cellular technologies and community telecentres in addressing financial exclusion within indigenous communities. Detailing successful ‘social banking' models adopted in several developing countries, it is asserted that m-banking could serve as a powerful tool for inclusion.
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Financial exclusion is a terminology not considered part of popular vernacular, yet its importance cannot be understated. Simply defined, it describes a situation where individuals are unable to access banking and financial services. It is a matter of increasing pertinence to finance and economics researchers alike. Exclusion has been considered quite considerably in other disciplines, particularly in the development studies and sociology literature1 . Financial inclusion in these discourses is considered to exist as a feature of a broader ‘social exclusion’. Kempson and Whyley (1999) addressed the dearth of research considering these matters within the finance literature2. The authors contend that an array of factors are pertinent to financial exclusion, highlighting low incomes, lack of access, price, employment, cultural background and literacy. It is a priori quite evident that these factors differ in terms of significance and impact within different countries, though research conducted around the world consistently highlights these factors3 (see Delvin, 2005; Geech, 2007). Much of the extant finance literature has focused primarily on access issues (see Leyshon & Thrift, 1994; 1995). Herein, it is acknowledged that the construct has a broader delineation than mere physical access exclusion, though it is this issue, physical access exclusion that in the opinion of the report author represents amongst the most pertinent considerations. Simply put, if physical access issues are not resolved, other matters are of little consequence. This notwithstanding, the financial exclusion construct is perhaps best defined with reference to each of its facets. The construct has been more critically developed by Kempson and Whyley (1999a).

‘Access Exclusion’ pertains to challenge associated with procuring financial services due to physical access challenges or the mechanisms enacted to determine risk profiles. ‘Condition Exclusion’ relates to the structure of financial products and the conditions that attach to financial products. ‘Price Exclusion’ relates to exclusion from financial services due to cost related factors. ‘Marketing Exclusion’ pertains to the manner with which financial products and services are marketed, which may often cause some to be excluded. ‘Self-Exclusion’ is a pervasive form of exclusion that causes prospective financial service users to exclude themselves due to the perception that they will likely be declined the service. While each is pertinent to financial exclusion our concern herein is the matter of access, this study seeks to respond directly to the matter of physical exclusion.

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