Witnesses testify on importance of technology in teaching financial skills

Financial EducationWitnesses testified before a House subcommittee on Wednesday on the importance of technology in reaching out to and teaching American youth financial management skills.

The hearing, held by the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, focused on the impact of the technology to improve financial education in the U.S., which ranked fourth in financial literacy among 28 countries surveyed by Visa in 2012.

Alicia Puente Cackley, the director of financial markets and community investment at the Government Accountability Office, pointed to a recently released report from the agency that indicated greater coordination between federal agencies would ensure the proper allocation of resources dedicated to improving financial education.

“While our prior work uncovered no duplication, some agencies or programs do have overlapping goals and activities, raising the risk of inefficiency and underscoring the importance of coordination,” Cackley said.

Stephen Kehoe, the senior vice president and global head of financial inclusion at Visa, stressed the importance of a partnership between public entities and businesses in reaching out to consumers.

“Public entities, nonprofit organizations and schools don’t always have the resources they need,” Kehoe said. “We have tried to take a comprehensive approach to public/private partnerships, working not only with state governments, but also schools, nongovernmental organizations and community-based organizations to deliver financial education programs… The solution to creating a more financially literate, healthy citizenry requires a multipronged approach through a shared effort of parents, teachers, nonprofits, business and government. Each plays a critical role.”

Another witness, CEO Sabrina Lamb, said technology must be able to reach a wide range of racial and cultural groups in order to be successful.

“For maximum appeal technology can also help by reflecting the cultural and racial diversity of Americans and how various communities interface with their personal finances,” Lamb said. “One content does not fit all. Thus, the user must feel that their issues are being addressed.”

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