Chase, Commonwealth to research how tech affects low-income Americans

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Commonwealth, a nonprofit that focuses on financial security for low-income Americans, is undertaking a two-year initiative with JPMorgan Chase.

The project will involve on-the-ground research to understand the positive and negative effects of emerging technologies on financially vulnerable people and figure out how best to address their needs. Race, gender and age will be disaggregated from the data, and researchers will also consider how economic disruptions affect certain places, such as low-income neighborhoods, differently.

JPMorgan Chase is funding the initiative.

“Emerging technology will play a central role in the post-COVID economy — but the question is, will this hurt or help America’s most financially vulnerable?” Timothy Flacke, co-founder and executive director of Commonwealth, said in a press release. “A time of disruption provides an opportunity to include new people in the financial system — but only if technology is intentionally designed and distributed based on a thorough understanding of the needs and aspirations of these customers.”

Timothy Flacke, co-founder and executive director of Commonwealth
“We would love to see innovators...consider how AI might work not just for the individuals, but for households, families and even communities," said Timothy Flacke, co-founder and executive director of Commonwealth.

Commonwealth will produce toolkits, briefs and online content with the goal of helping fintechs and social impact companies use emerging technologies to serve low- and middle-income Americans.

For example, “we’ve seen that some people living on low incomes rely to a much greater degree on extended family and community to manage financial challenges,” Flacke said by email. “We would love to see innovators understand and build from this sort of insight, considering how AI might work not just for the individuals, but for households, families and even communities.”

The nonprofit may also communicate its findings through events, including a private stakeholder meeting and a public webinar.

Commonwealth previously worked with JPMorgan Chase to test savings tools for lower-wage workers.

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