The emergence of the digital financial services ecosystem in India has widened the digital divide leading to the financial exclusion of marginalized populations and negatively impacting economic development. This research addresses the United Nation’s sustainable development goal of poverty reduction with the advances in information technology. Illiteracy, lack of digital literacy, and distrust of digital payment systems are widely prevalent among the marginalized in the Global South. This research seeks to understand the causes and consequences of the financial exclusion of impoverished users and find solutions to foster financial inclusion from community organizations, fintech and political institutions. The research aims to comprehend the power dynamics determined by political institutions and conglomerates for private gain vs. the public interest for digital financial platforms in India. It illuminates the gaps that lead to information asymmetries arising from economic and information policies. This research tracks digital policies to facilitate the adoption of mobile applications for monetary transactions and the experience of marginalized micro-entrepreneurs with digital financial services. Research questions include: How has the emergence of the digital financial service ecosystem in India impacted social practices around money and economic development for the marginalized? What is the role of political institutions in arranging the public and private power dynamics for digital financial platforms?
Aditi Bhatia-Kalluri is a fifth-year Ph.D. student at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto. Her research focuses on how digital policies shape the information practices of marginalized users in the Global South. The research tracks adaptation to mobile phones by auditing everyday user challenges and finding gaps that lead to information asymmetry. Aditi earned a Master of Digital Media from Toronto Metropolitan University and B.A. Hons in New Media Studies from the University of Toronto.
Discussant: Brett Caraway, Associate Professor, Faculty of Information and Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology, University of Toronto.