DUCA Impact Lab is a registered charity founded by DUCA Credit Union. We are a hub for the exploration of solutions to inequities in today’s financial system. We bring together innovators, experts and stakeholders from the community to identify, test and champion catalytic solutions that provide fair financial services for all.

Everyone needs to bank, but not everyone can get a fair deal.

Banking can be designed and delivered to help people live better lives. As DUCA’s mission indicates, we believe financial institutions should exist to help people and businesses, do more, be more and achieve more. The current reality is, this isn’t always the way banking works.

We believe banking can be better.

Most banks make decisions on services such as credit in the same way, using more or less the same criteria. For many, this means that if you can check the right boxes, accessing the right banking services and advice is just a matter of contacting your local bank branch. 

But what if you aren’t able to check the right boxes?  Almost everyone has a bank account. However, large numbers of people are excluded from accessing the specialized financial services they need, causing the most vulnerable in our community to pursue high cost and often detrimental solutions outside of the financial mainstream.

Even for those that are granted access, the question of are they getting the right advice and a fair deal is difficult for most people to answer. Many people in Canada have borrowed as much as they possibly can and pay high fees to access their own money. This means bigger and bigger portions of income are channelled towards financial institutions with limited opportunity for banking customers to participate in the profits they enable.

This is not banking at its best. We believe banking can be better.

What is the solution?

Banking has the potential to make a difference in the world for the better. For this potential to be realised financial institutions need a broader definition of social responsibility, one that looks at how their business model enables, or doesn’t enable, positive changes in their community. How do we envision this new standard of social responsibility in financial institutions? For starters:

It’s not about the number of people participating in financial literacy workshops, it’s about creating better opportunities to apply financial literacy knowledge.

It’s not about the percentage of Canadians who have access to bank accounts, it’s about how they are using those accounts and how the institutions are facilitating better financial health.

It’s not about giving back less than 1% of pre-tax profits to community organizations, it’s about engaging communities to solve problems and providing equitable financial services that work for everybody.

The potential of banking as a lever to create social value is massive, but largely unfulfilled.

How will DUCA Impact Lab help?

To solve complex problems, we need to move beyond stakeholder “consultation” and towards stakeholder “collaboration” and “experimentation”. We need to involve a broader range of participants in creating innovative solutions that address the needs of all people.

The DUCA Impact Lab provides a place for this to happen.

What would banking look like if it’s primary focus was solving problems and creating opportunities?

The DUCA Impact Lab is a unique place where we can experiment with meaningful and scalable solutions. It brings together a network of partners who want to contribute to positive social change by solving complex problems. This network includes non-profit partners who are supported by philanthropic financial resources, and innovative organizations in the financial technology (fintech) space who contribute technological expertise. The lab and its partners identify needs and services gaps, formulate experimental solutions and pilot test models.

From the insights generated in the lab, we build resources that will help everyone to access the financial system more effectively. These learnings and tools will be shared with community organizations so they can develop their own financial empowerment interventions, and with banks so they can better deliver on their social purpose.

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