This discussion paper examines the opportunity to redesign financial products to make it harder for financially abusive customers to inflict harm on others.
Perpetrators of financial abuse as a tactic of domestic and family violence use money to control their victims, with devastating impact. Our objective is to contribute to finance industry and regulatory consideration of a new Financial Safety by Design framework to prevent and lessen this harm.
This paper, the first in a series, focuses on banking which has made significant strides to improve the experience and outcomes for customers who disclose domestic and family violence. The industry’s focus has primarily been on addressing the harm to victim-survivors after it has occurred but it has also taken the first steps to introducing Financial Safety by Design. Australian banks have been leading in their approach to tackling abuse sent by customers using digital payment platforms, attempting to prevent harm by intervening early and sending a strong message to perpetrators that bank accounts are no place for abuse.
The concepts outlined here can be applied to other parts of the finance sector such as general insurance, superannuation and life insurance. Armed with the growing body of research and real-life experiences, the Centre for Women’s Economic Safety believes the finance sector can demonstrate its obligation to consider customer vulnerability in product design and distribution by making changes to their existing suite of products to prevent financial abuse. There may also be commercial opportunities to develop new products that enhance financial safety and promote more equitable outcomes.