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The challenge of digital financial literacy in the field of fintech (industry 4.0)

María Jesús Gallego-Losada

Department of Financial Economics, Accounting and Modern Languages, University Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, Spain

https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8308-6521

María Elisa García-Abajo

Department of Financial Economics, Accounting and Modern Languages, University Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, Spain

https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9559-1111

Antonio Montero-Navarro

Department of Business Management, Applied Economics II and Fundamentals of Economic Analysis, University Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, Spain

https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8096-5352

Rocío Gallego-Losada*

Department of Financial Economics, Accounting and Modern Languages, University Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, Spain

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2470-6860

Received: 31-03-2021; Accepted: 27-07-2021; Published: 30-12-2021

Abstract

Objective: the main objective of the article is to analyse the level of digital financial culture or digital financial literacy of Spanish university students, within the framework of Industry 4.0. A new original measure is included to measure the degree of digital financial knowledge, based on an ad-hoc questionnaire.

Methodology: a survey was designed based on the recommendations given in the most up to date literature. The questionnaire was given during the second half of March 2021 to a sample of 308 students at Spanish universities.

Results: the research offers a good approximation of the level of students’ digital financial literacy (DFL) at Spanish universities, and their classification by financial competence groups. Variable results are expected, depending on the knowledge and use of the financial product which they are asked about, which could indicate the existence of an early digital financial knowledge gap within that same group of students.

Limitations: it would be useful to carry out similar research in other countries in order to make a comparison. Furthermore, through further research, it would be possible to distinguish students of different degrees within the sample, in order to compare the results obtained.

Practical implications: this research delves into the level of digital financial culture of students at Spanish universities, with a view to assisting governments and financial institutions in becoming aware of the need for training in this field of fundamental knowledge within the industry 4.0 framework. In addition, the challenge arises of which individuals are aware of the need to improve this type of knowledge, to be able to face the challenge of the financial and digital world with better guarantees of success.

Keywords: financial literacy; digital financial competence; digital financial inclusion; Industry 4.0; college students

JEL codes: I22, M21, M50

FinTech领域数字金融素养的挑战 (生产力4.0)

文章摘要

研究目的:本研究的主要目的是在生产力4.0的框架下分析西班牙大学学生的数字金融文化或数字金融素养水平。 包括一个新的原始措施,用AD-HOC问卷来衡量学生们对数字金融知识的程度。

分析方法:根据最新文献中给出的建议设计了一项调查。 该问卷于 2021 年 3 月下半月应用于西班牙大学的 308 名学生样本。

研究结论:本研究提供了西班牙大学学生对数字金融素养水平的近似值,以及按他们金融能力进行分组。 根据他们被问及的金融产品的知识和使用情况,预计会有不同的结果,从而表明同一组学生中存在早期的数字金融知识差距。

研究局限:在与西班牙类似的其他国家进行类似的研究会比较有趣。 此外,在后续的研究中,可以在样本中将不同专业的学生区分开来,以评估所获得的结果之间的比较。

实际应用:本研究深入研究了西班牙大学学生的数字金融文化水平,因此它可以帮助政府和金融机构意识到在生产力 4.0 框架内对这一基础知识领域进行培训的必要性。 此外,个人面临的挑战是意识到需要改进此类知识,因此能更好地保证应对金融和数字世界的挑战取得成功。

关键词:金融文化; 数字金融能力; 数字金融包容性; 生产力4.0; 大学生。

JEL 分类号: I22, M21, M50

1. Introduction

In recent years, the rapid development of information and communication technology has catapulted the world fully into what has been called the digital age. Technological advances are affecting, and thus, changing most fields of human reality, not only on a global level but also an individual one. As the academic literature points out, today we are immersed in the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution, in which digitization and new technologies play a key role in almost all sectors (Xu et al., 2018).

The fourth industrial revolution is also known as Industry 4.0. In fact, these two terms are used interchangeably in the literature. Kagermann et al. (2011) were among the first authors who coined the term Industry 4.0, referring to the link between the two worlds: the real and the virtual. Industry 4.0 is a term that was first used by the German government and describes an organisation of production processes based on technology. As shown by Schuh et al. (2014), this is about combining digital, physical, and biological technologies through tools such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of things (IoT), biotechnology and the design of new business models based on knowledge and not on the use of low-cost resources.

Among the essential components of Industry 4.0, the literature highlights the need for a standardised and easily accessible connection system; the development and management of complex models and methods; a comprehensive infrastructure that provides a high-quality information network; security and data protection; a new system for working; and an adequate legal framework to regulate this new reality (Crnjac et al., 2017). For their part, Muhuri et al. (2019) put the emphasis on only three essential components for any system forming part of Industry 4.0: constant connectivity, human assistance, and decentralised decision-making.

As pointed out by Riel et al. (2017) and Jazdi (2014), the Internet of goods and services represents the essence of Industry 4.0, giving rise to a complex web of technological systems that entail great difficulty when implementing the fourth industrial revolution successfully. Likewise, the development of Industry 4.0 will require a new method of organising work, which will require workers to use new skills and capabilities.

In this scenario, higher education is called to play a key role, adapting its framework to capture the impacts of the technological age. In particular, it must promote the inclusion of any student in the labour market, improving not only the effectiveness of the learning system but also its sustainability, providing students with the skills and competencies necessary to face not only the present but also the potential changes in the future labour market (Gazzola & Didriksson, 2018; Demartini & Benussi, 2017). For its part, the financial industry is not immune to the changes brought by this fourth industrial revolution. Indeed, many financial services are already carried out in a virtual scenario, which is causing a profound transformation in the entire traditional banking sector. Internet and mobile banking are at the centre of this change of model.

Digital technology applied to the financial sector (Fintech) is also changing consumer behaviour and the demand for financial services. Some authors have shown that Industry 4.0 can represent a milestone in financial inclusion, facilitating access to many basic financial products and services for people who were previously unable to obtain them (Gálvez-Sánchez et al., 2021), in many cases due to infrastructure availability problems and difficulty in accessing financial service providers. According to World Bank data, around 1.7 billion adults are still unbanked in the world, that is, without an account at a financial institution or through a mobile money provider (Demirgüç-Kunt et al., 2020). In addition, on this issue, the World Bank recognises that the new generation of affordable financial services through mobile and Internet is contributing to progress in this area. It is estimated that, among the world's unbanked adults, about two-thirds (almost 1.1 billion people) own a mobile phone. However, in order to benefit from the advances that technology offers, it is still necessary to have a solid regulatory framework and a minimum level of development in markets and financial infrastructures (Demirgüç-Kunt et al., (2020). Therefore, as Gomber et al. (2017) point out, digital financial inclusion will achieve the sustainability of financial services provided to customers at an affordable cost.

However, effective use of financial technology products is required to achieve a certain level of both digital and financial literacy, in order to make good decisions and prevent customers from making costly mistakes. Some authors point out that mobile applications can attract people and lead those with a low level of digital financial education into making unadvisable decisions. Furthermore, there is empirical evidence that shows a relationship between mobile users and impulsive buying behaviour (Joshi et al., 2017). In the same vein, Prasad et al. (2018) found that financial innovation can trigger some instability in terms of welfare, a higher level of financial risk, and impulsive behaviour on the part of the consumer.

Although the academic literature on digital financial literacy (DFL) has been accumulating in recent years, most studies have focussed solely on traditional financial literacy, yielding empirical evidence on the impact that financial education has on effective decision-making. Thus, numerous studies have found a positive relationship between financial education and the wellbeing of individuals, the economy and society (Lee et al., 2019; Huang et al., 2013; Montalto et al., 2019; Ambarkhane et al. 2015).

However, the digitalisation of the economy within the framework of Industry 4.0 has meant that traditional financial literacy is no longer sufficient to guarantee adequate planning. The implementation of financial services on Internet-based platforms means that the control and management of personal finances will depend more and more on the individual good work of clients and/or consumers and, as a result, they will have to take more and more direct responsibility for their financial future. Thus, the technological transformation of the financial sector makes it necessary to adapt financial training to the digital field in order to achieve digital financial literacy (DFL) for consumers.

This article analyses the level of digital financial skills that students have in Spanish universities. To do so, we have reviewed the current measures available in the academic literature (OECD, 2018; World Bank, 2018; Morgan et al., 2019), in order to design a new form of measurement that really assesses such competence - not only the self-perception of such competence. Furthermore, the identification of groups with different levels of financial literacy using this measure may be a valuable starting point for designing programmes aimed at understanding the application of digital technology to financial products. This could later be extended to all sectors of the population, and especially among the most vulnerable groups, since the problem of lack of financial literacy mainly affects those with a lower level of education such as the elderly and women (Van Rooij et al. 2011). At the international level, since the G-20 was set up, the strategic importance of the financial inclusion of the elderly and the challenges that are posed to achieve them, as a group, have been highlighted (G20-GPFI, 2019). According to the OECD (2018), this outreach work could produce considerable progress as long as it is able to contribute significantly to improving spending and saving behaviour.

The article is structured as follows. Firstly, the next section reviews the state of the art in terms of both financial literacy and digital financial competence. Next, the methodology followed by the study is explained, followed by an analysis of its main results. Finally, the main conclusions of the study will be highlighted, pointing out both its limitations and potential lines of development for future research.

2. Financial literacy, digital financial competence, and digital financial literacy

According to Huston (2010), financial culture (financial literacy) assesses the extent to which an individual can understand and properly use information related to their personal finances. Lusardi & Mitchell (2011), meanwhile, define it as the knowledge of basic financial concepts and the ability to perform simple calculations. Empirical evidence has shown the relationship between financial culture and financial behaviour (Kim et al. 2019), as well as financial behaviour in relation to debt (Gutiérrez-Nieto et al., 2017). The literature is unanimous in recognising the positive effects of financial culture, this being able to mitigate many personal problems such as financial stress, disputes and even illness (Fox et al., 2005). In this sense, the life-cycle model developed by Lusardi & Mitchell (2014) suggests that those who receive financial education are more financially successful than those who do not, and this may even result in a favourable social impact derived from better financial planning for each individual’s retirement (Gallego-Losada et al., 2021). Therefore, public authorities and financial institutions promote policies and financial education courses to increase financial literacy among the population.

Financial literacy has often been associated with other related concepts, such as financial knowledge or financial competence. Although some authors have considered these to be synonymous (Kempson et al. 2006), it is possible that some individuals may have the knowledge required to take care of their personal finances, however, lack financial competence if this is not reflected in their behaviour (Sherraden, 2013). Thus, although financial literacy appears to be a necessary condition for financial competence, this would not be sufficient.

Financial technology consists mainly of the development of different innovative business models that have the potential to transform the services provided by the financial industry (Mamoshina et al., 2018), thus aligning it with Industry 4.0. The digital finance model involves offering financial products and services through Internet, with one of its greatest challenges being its ability to transform thousands of millions of traditional customers into digital financial customers (Ray et al., 2019).

Some authors have analysed how digitalisation represents a revolution in financial inclusion, facilitating access to a wide variety of basic financial products and services to people who were previously unable to access them (Galvez-Sánchez et al., 2021), through both traditional entities and new financial intermediaries that operate exclusively on an electronic basis (fintech or neo banks). On this issue, international organisations such as the World Bank affirms that this new generation of financial services, accessible through mobile phones and the Internet, is helping to bring finance closer to the population. As Gomber et al. (2017) point out, this will improve the accessibility of financial services, both in terms of consumer knowledge and cost.

This model is expected to generate considerable benefits for people at risk of social exclusion and disadvantaged groups. In fact, with the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, financial institutions have made widespread use of digital banking, and for many customers, this was even the only way to access banking services. Thus, during the pandemic period, most purchases and transactions were made online through banking applications. (Mhlanga, 2020).

Consequently, this technology is completely and rapidly transforming the financial services sector, in which technological skills are becoming a vital requirement for people. On the one hand, the rapid development of the digital payment system has created opportunities to connect low-income households to an affordable and reliable financial tool through mobile phones and other digital tools. On the other hand, the development of Fintech could be detrimental to financial well-being by increasing financial risk and encouraging impulsive consumer behaviour (Prasad & Meghwal, 2017; Shen, et al., 2018; Panos & Wilson, 2020). Thus, there is a need to broaden the concept of financial competence to include digital skills, as managing personal finances requires the ability to use new digital financial tools. Furthermore, greater financial literacy implies a greater propensity to use fintech services (Jünger & Mietzner, 2020; Panos & Wilson, 2020).

In this context, the multitude of potential risks derived from this complex virtual system must also be taken into account (World Bank, 2018). According to the OECD (2018), policy makers, when formulating public policies, must be fully aware of the benefits and risks created by digital financial technology, and how these may affect consumers and entrepreneurs. Therefore, to make effective use of digital financial services it is vital to improve levels of AFD between the different population groups (Prasad & Meghwal, 2017).

There is a consensus on the favourable impact of digital financial education on consumer spending and saving behaviour (Setiawan, et al., 2020; Dewi et al; 2020). For example, some authors have found that the use of digital financial technology affected spending (Cobla & Osei-Assibey, 2018) and saving behaviour (Moenjak et al., 2020). Setiawan et al., (2020), investigating the relationship between AFD, and saving and spending behaviour among Indonesian millennials.

The Global Findex database (Demirgüç-Kunt et al., 2020) evidenced a significant gap between the proportion of adults who saved through a financial institution and the adults who saved money outside financial institutions, including digital savings. On the other hand, a positive relationship between AFD and long-term financial security is suggested (Hung et al. 2009). Finau et al., (2016) conducted an experiment focussed on assessing the rural population’s perceptions of digital financial services, gathering empirical evidence on the key role of AFD in reducing perceived deterrents to digital financial services.

Therefore, digital financial literacy has increasingly become an essential feature of culture in the era of fintech (Liew et al., 2020). In addition, the importance of digital financial education is highlighted not only to access financial services but also to avoid digital financial fraud (Morgan et al., 2019). Easy access to digital financial services and products will affect financial inclusion (Grohmann et al., 2018) and financial innovation, which will have a significant impact on personal financial well-being (Frame et al., 2018). As observed by authors such as Morgan et al. (2019), there is a consensus in favour of supporting financial education for the digital age in terms of the use of efficient financial digital products and services, in order to avoid fraud and financial mistakes.

However, the study of AFD is still incipient in the academic literature, which implies the existence of few empirical approaches. One of the initial problems is related to the very lack of consensus around the definition. As the OECD (2017) points out, the definition of AFD or digital financial literacy remains inconclusive and there are concerns in the financial literature over providing an accurate measure of this term. Prasad et al., (2018), in one of the most well-known definitions, suggest that AFD is the knowledge applied to making payments, purchases and online banking.

Morgan et al. (2019) developed the most comprehensive definition of digital financial literacy (DFL) as a multidimensional concept. In particular, they proposed four dimensions of digital financial education, including knowledge of digital financial products and services, awareness of digital financial risks, monitoring of digital risks, and knowledge of consumer rights and redress procedures.

The measure proposed by Morgan et al., (2019) is, for the moment, the most widely used in other academic works. However, some of the dimensions proposed by the authors actually assess the self-perception by users of their own digital financial competence, and not the ability to make decisions, that is, the true possession of the skill. In this way, we consider it especially important to try to develop a form of measurement analogous to the one that has been used to assess financial competence in traditional channels, adapted to Industry 4.0. Therefore, the first purpose of this paper is the design of this form of measurement.

Additionally, this form of measurement has been applied to the assessment of digital financial competence among students at Spanish universities. This is a highly relevant group in this instance, as they are the first to enter the labour market after the accelerated and unstoppable shift from finance to the digital world, especially as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This group will immediately have to face complex financial decisions. On this point, Lusardi & Michell, (2017) emphasise the potential virtues of financial education acquired during formal education to promote more efficient financial decisions for retirement.

After measuring students’ level of financial competence, they were classified into different groups according to their financial competence (high, medium, or low). Finally, and based on these groups, we analysed the differences between members of the groups with a higher and lower level of financial competence in order to assess whether self-perception of their financial and technological knowledge was significantly different, a finding which would partially validate the use of measures such as the one already cited by Morgan et al., (2019)

3. Methodology

As indicated above, the design of an appropriate measure of financial competence is the first objective of this paper. To this end, the most widespread forms of measurement in the above literature have been taken as starting points.

As concerns measurement of digital financial literacy, the study by Morgan et al., (2019) is, as indicated, the one cited by most subsequent studies (Liew et al., 2020). For each of the four proposed dimensions, as shown in Table 1 (knowledge of digital financial products and services; awareness of digital financial risks; control of digital risks; and knowledge of consumer rights and repair procedures), respondents had to assess their own ability using the Likert scales, with which they assessed the veracity of statements such as “I am able to use online banking” or “I know how to protect my PIN.”

Table 1. Dimensions of Financial Culture. Source: Morgan et al. 2019.

Dimensions of financial culture

Knowledge of financial products and services

I’m able to use an e-wallet

I’m able to use online banking

I’m able to trade online in the stock market

I’m able to use Internet Based insurance services

Awareness of digital financial risks

I’m aware that a hacker might pretend to be a financial institution to make me disclose my personal data

I’m aware that a virus can redirect the user to a false web to make him/her disclose personal data

I’m aware that malicious software can be uploaded to the user’s PC or mobile phone to transmit personal data

I’m aware that someone can impersonate the user, getting his/her SIM card and, therefore, his/her data

I’m aware that a hacker can steal my personal data from my online activities, such a social network

Knowledge of financial risk control

I can use computer programs to avoid spam, phishing…

I can use mobile apps to avoid spam, phishing…

I can protect my personal identification number (PIN)

I can protect my personal information when using digital financial products

Knowledge of consumer rights and compensation procedures

I know my rights us a user of digital financial products and services

I know where to complain if I’m a victim of a fraud when using financial products through digital media

I know how to get a compensation if I am victim of a fraud

I know my rights regarding my personal data

Each of the dimensions was internally consistent, although two main objections can be raised to this measurement. In the first place, the way of asking the question does not provide information about the true ability to use digital financial tools (digital financial competence), but rather the respondent’s self-perception, so that a higher or lower degree of self-confidence determined the results.

Additionally, the different dimensions are related in different ways to the ability to use these tools. Thus, if the products and digital tools about which respondents were asked were unknown to them (e-wallet, online banking, online stock market, online insurance), it would not be possible to assess their use. Nevertheless, if one is not familiar, for example, with complaints procedures, it is still possible to use these tools, although the risk is obviously higher.

Thus, we have deemed it necessary to propose a measure of digital financial competence based on measures used to assess culture and general financial competence. Thus, the measures provided in successive editions by standardised international surveys, such as those of the OECD / INFE and the World Bank, have been used as a starting point, the last one corresponding to 2020 (OECD, 2020). These are based on the analysis of the information obtained through multiple-choice questionnaires on financial decision-making situations, such as choosing between different financial products. This type of questionnaires gives each participant several scores based on the evaluation of various aspects (knowledge of the value of money over time, inflation etc.), as well as an overall score. Of particular note is the Survey of Financial Competencies (ECF) developed by representatives of governments and central banks of some thirty countries belonging to the International Network on Financial Education (INFE) and the OECD. As an example, to measure financial knowledge of “inflation” the following question is asked: “Imagine that five brothers receive a gift of € 1,000. If they split the money equally, how much will each get?”. Then, the question is asked “Imagine now that the five brothers had to wait a year to get their share of € 1,000, and that inflation in that year was of 1%. In one year’s time they will be able to buy….”. Three possible answers are given: 1. More than they could buy today with their share of the money; 2. The same amount; 3. Less than they could buy today.

Similarly, digital financial competence can be reflected in different areas. Among them, we wanted to differentiate knowledge from basic operations (access to digital tools, identification etc.); the use of electronic payment systems (payment apps, Paypal etc.); and decentralised finance, defined by Buterin (2013) as a paradigm shift enabled by decentralised technologies, particularly blockchain, which began with the creation of Bitcoin. Thus, in order to assess the digital finance competence of the respondents, we have opted to include questions from all these areas, emphasizing payment methods which were well-known, and frequently used by many people. Among the ten questions on digital financial competence, 3 referred to basic operations (OB); 5 to payment methods (MP); and 2 to decentralised finance (FD) (All acronyms are Spanish). In order to obtain scores from each respondent, we opted to award 1 point to each correct answer and 0 points to any other option, including not knowing. Table 2 shows the questions included in the questionnaire used in this study.

Table 2. Questions on digital financial competence included in this article.

What do you NOT NEED to access your bank account through electronic banking?

OB

What is required to make a payment using Bizum?

MP

Is there a Bitcoin issuer?

FD

We use Paypal in order to…

MP

In order to use Bizum to pay someone else…

MP

Is it possible to obtain a mortgage loan from a Fintech?

OB

Which of the following is not a cryptocurrency?

FD

It is not possible to contact a deposit using digital banking

OB

Virtual cards cannot be associated with traditional financial entities

MP

I can associate more than one card to my phone in order to pay

MP

In order to assess the digital financial competence of Spanish university students, as already explained above, a survey was carried out during the month of April 2021, on digital media (mainly through social networks such as LinkedIn) among students from different degrees and masters at Spanish universities. The number of responses obtained was 308, which, for a confidence level of 95% and under the usual sampling conditions (p = q = 50%), gave us a margin of error for the total sample, without segmentation, of ± 5.6%. Most of the responses obtained came from people who are studying economics and business, which, a priori, implies greater familiarity with financial concepts and instruments. Women were predominant in the sample (57.8%).

4. Results

Regarding the questions about basic operations, the degree of knowledge demonstrated by the respondents can be considered as intermediate. Thus, the average score obtained in this part is slightly below half of the total possible points (1.399 out of a maximum of 3). However, while the vast majority of respondents answered the question ' What do you NOT need to access your bank account through electronic banking?’, lack of familiarity was the norm for the question: Is it possible to obtain a mortgage through Fintech?’. Graph 1 shows the frequencies of the correct answers obtained. Specifically, 13% of respondents had 0 correct answers; 43% of those surveyed had 1 correct answer; 26% had 2 correct; and 8% had all 3 correct answers.

Graph 1. Digital financial competence. Basic operations.

As might be expected, knowledge of electronic means of payment was significantly greater. Thus, the average score was clearly higher than the approved one (4.07 points out of 5 possible), which means that in cases most of the answers provided were correct, with the lowest percentage corresponding to the question 'Virtual cards cannot be associated with traditional financial institutions’. Graph 2 shows the frequencies of the correct answers obtained.

Graph 2. Digital financial competence. Means of payment.

On the contrary, the lowest level of knowledge among respondents was detected in the questions on decentralised finance. Thus, the average score was only 0.668 out of 2 possible points, which shows a relatively broad lack of knowledge in this area, as shown in graph 3.

Graph 3. Digital financial literacy. Decentralised finance.

Based on these responses, an attempt has been made to classify the study participants based on their digital financial competence. For this purpose, a cluster analysis of K-means has been carried out (Hartigan, 1975), starting from four variables: the scores obtained by each respondent in the areas of basic operations; payment methods; and decentralised finance, as well as the total score, following the literature (Cea D’Ancona, 2002). However, other procedures were tested, such as hierarchical cluster analysis, which yielded similar results. The nature of the variables used appeared to recommend the use of this technique. A priori, the data pointed to three levels of digital financial competence, which were required to be confirmed by the study.

The variance analysis carried out (Table 3) revealed that all the variables included were decisive in the result of the procedure, although global digital financial competence was clearly the most influential in group formation.

Table 3. ANOVA.

Variable

Conglomerate

Error

F

S.I.G.

Quadratic mean

gl

Quadratic mean

gl

OPER

54,664

2

, 310

305

176,335

, 000

PAYMENTS

96,997

2

, 483

305

200,856

, 000

DEFI

30,496

2

, 371

305

82,147

, 000

TOTAL

466,674

2

, 716

305

651,821

, 000

The results obtained in terms of the different groups are summarised below

The existence of three levels of competence appeared to be supported by the results of the analysis. On the one hand, those who had a high level of digital financial competence - a relatively high number of participants (136) - were significantly familiar with electronic payment mechanisms, possibly, as indicated above, due to their frequent use of these. Their knowledge of e-finance operations was also very remarkable, and they only had certain shortcomings in relation to decentralised finance, in some cases.

Table 4. Result of cluster analysis using the k-means algorithm depending on digital financial competence: final cluster centres.

Table 4. Result of cluster analysis using the k-means algorithm according to digital financial competence: final cluster centres.

Variable

Low competence

High competence

Medium competence

OPER

0

2

1

PAYMENTS

2

5

4

DEFI

0

1

0

TOTAL

3

8

5

Number of people

33

136

139

Participants who were characterised by an intermediate level of digital financial competence demonstrated a knowledge of payment instruments that was very similar to the previous cluster. However, the differentiating factors were, in this case, both the knowledge of basic operations and its proximity to decentralised finance. We could say, therefore, that the members of this group were skilled when making electronic payments, possibly because they were used to it, but they did not usually use digital finance for any other purpose, so their competence suffered.

Finally, a third group, the least numerous (33), was characterised by a low level of digital financial competence, in which they had only limited knowledge of the use of digital means of payment, not revealing any close relation with the other aspects. Although, as indicated, this is the smallest group, it is important to highlight that, in actual fact, it is not so small, since it includes more than 10% of those surveyed. This may point to the existence of a small technology gap, even at the age of the respondents.

To verify whether or not there are differences in self-perceptions of financial and technological knowledge among the respondents, we will take the two groups at the extreme, namely those that were considered to possess a high and, in turn, a low level of financial digital competence.

Firstly, the normality of the different variables was studied in order to determine the type of technique - either parametric or non-parametric - that we were to use to evaluate the mean difference between the two extreme groups. This preliminary analysis was carried out using the Kolmogorov-Smirnov normality test, the results of which are included in Table 5, shading the variables for which a normal distribution could be assumed and for which, consequently, we used non-parametric tests.

Table 5. Kolmogorov-Smirnov test for contrasting the normality of the variables.

Questions

Z for K-S

Next. Asin

I have a very high level of financial literacy

2,028

0.001

I have never fallen and will never fall in a financial fraud

1,078

0.195

I’m highly skilled in the use of computers

0.818

0.516

I have never fallen and will never fall in a digital scam

0.69

0.728

I am fully aware of my rights as a user of financial services and products

1,479

0.025

I fully know my rights as a user of digital financial services and products

1,365

0.048

I always read completely the conditions of financial products (small print)

1,442

0.031

I always read completely all the conditions of the applications and technological tools (user license)

0.718

0.682

I am aware that I transfer data and sensitive information to my financial entities

1,509

0.021

I use all the computer security tools at my disposal (firewall, PIN, double check ...)

0.822

0.509

I am aware of all the commissions and expenses that financial entities apply to me

3,055

0

I know all the current means of digital fraud

1,139

0.149

I fully know the complaint procedures to my financial institution

0.646

0.797

I know perfectly how to proceed in case of digital fraud (for example, payment methods)

0.982

0.29

I have full confidence in the security of digital payment methods

1,342

0.054

I consider myself a very conservative person in my financial decisions

1,091

0.185

I am totally satisfied with the financial decisions I have made so far

0.736

0.651

I prefer to seek a high return on my savings, although I know that the risk is also high

1,147

0.144

I believe that careful financial planning needs to be done for the future

1,456

0.029

I fully control my expenses and income each month

1,253

0.087

Next, Table 6 below, shows the means and standard deviations of the two extreme groups, with high and low levels of financial competence. As can be seen, in all cases the group with high financial competence showed greater confidence in their knowledge, although the differences were more notable in certain questions (awareness of data transfer or collection of commissions) than, in others: confidence in not falling for a digital scam or knowledge of the complaint procedures.

Table 6. Statistics of each group.

 

CF level

N

Avg,

Std. Deviation

Dev. Average error

I have a very high level of financial literacy

Low

33

3.15

1,372

0.239

 

High

136

4.25

1,252

0.107

I have never fallen and will never fall in a financial fraud

Low

33

3.45

1,716

0.299

 

High

136

4.1

1,534

0.132

I’m highly skilled in the use of computers

Low

33

4.12

1,596

0.278

 

High

136

4.68

1.52

0.13

I have never fallen and will never fall in a digital scam

Low

33

3.88

1,867

0.325

 

High

136

4.07

1,618

0.139

I am fully aware of my rights as a user of financial services and products

Low

33

2.88

1,556

0.271

 

High

136

3.8

1,677

0.144

I fully know my rights as a user of digital financial services and products

Low

33

2.88

1,536

0.267

 

High

136

3.71

1,646

0.141

I always read completely the conditions of financial products (small print)

Low

33

2.7

2,325

0.405

 

High

136

3.4

2,099

0.18

I always read completely all the conditions of the applications and technological tools (user license)

Low

33

2.39

1,903

0.331

 

High

136

2.93

1,982

0.17

I am aware that I transfer data and sensitive information to my financial entities

Low

33

4.21

2,058

0.358

 

High

136

5.57

1,672

0.143

I use all the computer security tools at my disposal (firewall, PIN, double check ...)

Low

33

4

2

0.348

 

High

136

4.68

1,821

0.156

I am aware of all the commissions and expenses that financial entities apply to me

Low

33

3.06

1.54

0.268

 

High

136

4.99

1,824

0.156

I know all the current means of digital fraud

Low

33

3.06

1,657

0.288

 

High

136

3.51

1,628

0.14

I fully know the complaint procedures to my financial institution

Low

33

3.3

2,128

0.371

 

High

136

3.52

1,874

0.161

I know perfectly how to proceed in case of digital fraud (for example, payment methods)

Low

33

3.15

1,856

0.323

 

High

136

3.53

1,909

0.164

I have full confidence in the security of digital payment methods

Low

33

3.3

1,723

0.3

 

High

136

4

1,559

0.134

I consider myself a very conservative person in my financial decisions

Low

33

3.91

1,508

0.262

 

High

136

4.43

1,509

0.129

I am totally satisfied with the financial decisions I have made so far

Low

33

4.3

1,468

0.256

 

High

136

4.65

1,527

0.131

I prefer to seek a high return on my savings, although I know that the risk is also high

Low

33

3.48

1,326

0.231

 

High

136

3.96

1,757

0.151

I believe that careful financial planning needs to be done for the future

Low

33

4.91

1,739

0.303

 

High

136

5.78

1,548

0.133

I fully control my expenses and income each month

Low

33

4.7

1,992

0.347

 

High

136

5.26

1,573

0.135

In the case of the variables for which the normality hypothesis was adopted, a T-test on the difference between methods was carried out. In all cases except one (“preferring to seek high returns for my savings but aware that the risk is too high”) equal variances could be assumed by running Levine’s test. The results are listed in Table 7.

Table 7. Difference of means.

 

T

gl

Sig. (Bilateral)

I have never fallen and will never fall in a financial fraud

-2.103

167

0.037

I’m highly skilled in the use of computers

-1,865

167

0.064

I have never fallen and will never fall in a digital scam

-0.602

167

0.548

I always read completely all the conditions of the applications and technological tools (user license)

-1.414

167

0.159

I use all the computer security tools at my disposal (firewall, PIN, double check ...)

-1,877

167

0.062

I know all the current means of digital fraud

-1,432

167

0.154

I fully know the complaint procedures to my financial institution

-0.586

167

0.558

I know perfectly how to proceed in case of digital fraud (for example, payment methods)

-1.026

167

0.307

I have full confidence in the security of digital payment methods

-2,257

167

0.025

I consider myself a very conservative person in my financial decisions

-1,792

167

0.075

I am totally satisfied with the financial decisions I have made so far

-1,195

167

0.234

I prefer to seek a high return on my savings, although I know that the risk is also high

-1.736

62,407

0.088

I fully control my expenses and income each month

-1.738

167

0.084

Although there are statistically significant differences in all the underlined variables, the most pronounced were in the confidence that respondents had not been victims of financial fraud in the past (nor would they be in the future), much higher in the group with high digital financial competencies, and very markedly in their confidence in digital payment methods: students with significant skills were, as might be expected, much more comfortable when using these payment methods, so in this case it seems clear that self-confidence corresponded to superior skill.

On the other hand, it is especially noteworthy that neither of the two groups of students, regardless of their digital financial competence, showed a significantly superior knowledge of the channels for claims to their financial institution.

Regarding the variables not normally distributed (Table 8), the differences between the two groups were significant in all cases, always favouring students with a high level of digital financial skills: self-perception corresponded with reality, given that they were students who considered themselves to be knowledgeable of their rights (although, as we saw previously, confidence when claiming them was not so different between the two groups). They considered themselves aware of the information they provided; the commissions that they would be charged and believed that they were planning their finances well for the future.

Table 8. Nonparametric tests for variables not normally distributed.

 

Mann-Whitney U

Wilcoxon's W

Z

Sig. Asin. (bilateral)

I have a very high level of financial literacy

1250

1811

-4,058

0

I am fully aware of my rights as a user of financial services and products

1523.5

2,084.5

-2,903

0.004

I fully know my rights as a user of digital financial services and products

1576

2137

-2,696

0.007

I always read completely the conditions of financial products (small print)

1701

2262

-2,197

0.028

I am aware that I transfer data and sensitive information to my financial entities

1,366.5

1927.5

-3,587

0

I am aware of all the commissions and expenses that financial entities apply to me

1000

1561

-5.007

0

I believe that careful financial planning needs to be done for the future

1532.5

2,093.5

-2,942

0.003

In this way, we can see that, although the approximation made by Morgan et al. (2019) may be indirect, it does seem that users’ self-perception of digital financial services corresponded to reality, with no self-deception: people who believe that they have significant digital financial competence prove that they do actually possess it when they are faced with a decision-making process.

5. Conclusions

The fourth industrial revolution is forcing a change in the way we face the reality that affects most of the facets of our lives, from our own social relationships to education and business. Finances are, of course, no stranger to this change. Most of us currently carry out financial transactions electronically on a daily basis and, in fact, traditional financial institutions themselves are encouraging the use of technological tools by their clients, taking advantage of this trend. However, just as in the field of traditional finance, both financial literacy and financial competence are currently equally essential to achieve optimal use of the instruments at our disposal. In relation to digital finance, new skills and abilities are required; skills that act as facilitators for full use of Financial Industry 4.0. These competencies can refer to different aspects, such as the use of digital payment methods, decentralised finance or fraud prevention.

In the academic literature, the study of digital financial literacy is still incipient. In fact, the concept itself has very recently been formulated, and there is still no full consensus on its definition or measurement. In this direction, this study has met several objectives. First of all, based on the analysis of financial literacy and financial competence, both digital and traditional, we have designed a form of measurement of digital financial literacy, taking as a starting point the measurement of traditional financial competence. It is not a question, therefore, of assessing how the respondents could perceive themselves, but rather of actually testing their ability to use digital financial instruments.

Based on this new measurement tool, we assessed the degree of financial competence of students in Spanish universities. Taken as a whole, the result yields some knowledge that could be considered intermediate, however detailed analysis leaves us two relevant images that must be taken into account: the heterogeneity of the students, distinguishing three groups; high, medium and low financial digital competence; and the different skill levels depending on the specific aspect evaluated, much higher with regard to the use of digital means of payment, as compared to decentralised finance.

Some measures previously used by the academic literature relied especially on self-perception. In order to assess performance, we have compared the perceptions of digital financial competence of more and less proficient groups. As might be expected, the more skilled students in this field were aware of being so, in some respects more prominently than others, although perhaps the difference in perception was smaller than the actual difference in use.

Given that digital financial literacy is a key factor for financial inclusion, we must highlight the importance of training actions that equip students with the necessary skills to face a world of digital business and finance. This training should focus on aspects such as decentralised finance in which, given the lowest score in terms of habit, there is a more widespread lack of knowledge.

The main limitation of this study consists of having used a sample of students with a predominance of economics and business degrees. Currently, we are working on expanding the sample, giving more space to a greater number of students on other studies, in order to establish whether, as can be expected, there are differences in digital financial competence between students studying different degrees.

The scarcity of studies that address the analysis of digital financial culture reduces the ability to analyse results by comparison. More in-depth study of this subject will enable us to carry out this type of assessment in subsequent work.

From this work, it is possible to open up new lines of research. Perhaps the most rewarding would be to determine the background to digital financial competence. Among the factors that may influence this are one's own traditional financial competence, personal and family habits, technological knowledge, or previous education.

Similarly to background, it is also possible to study the consequences of having significant digital financial competence. Immediately, it can be expected that those who are more proficient will also be more frequent and advanced users of these tools, which will enable them to take better advantage of the opportunities they provide., This could quickly lead to better results in the management of personal finances.

In addition, this study could be carried out periodically in order to be able to follow in real time the adaptation of students to the changing and demanding digital financial environment, in real time.

To enrich the sample, this could also be run with students from other countries in our environment. The curricula that university students have followed in previous stages of their training vary significantly, with some countries placing special emphasis on financial training, so different results can be expected. Finally, it would be useful to extend the study to groups other than students, to analyse whether, as it seems, there may also be a digital financial gap, which could translate into potential exclusion of a part of the population.

Declaration of conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest in relation to the research, authorship, or publication of this work.

Financing

The authors have not received financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this work.

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Citation

Gallego-Losada, M. J., García-Abajo, M. E., Montero-Navarro, A., & Gallego-Losada, R. (2021) The challenge of digital financial literacy in the field of fintech (industry 4.0). ESIC Market, 53(1). e277 DOI: 10.7200/esicm.53.277