She’s also an eternal optimist and confident that a fairer, more inclusive financial services system can be achieved.
“I am optimistic because I’m starting to see different organisations come up with good intent. We’ve got big financial companies changing and thinking about where we need to go. We’ve got the Financial Inclusion Association which is pressurising and lobbying the government on the things they need to address. We are starting to make inroads, and people are coming up with wonderful, ingenious innovation.”
A socio-technologist, Karen focuses on the interplay between society and the impact of digital technologies. As an ambassador for the Digital Poverty Alliance, her vision is one of an equitable digital society, for all, not the few.
“It might be a bit of a utopian view by some people that we would be roughly equal. But I think if we work together, we can do it. I work with the Digital Poverty Alliance looking at stage one - how we get people connectivity. Then people like the Good Things Foundation give some free skills in the community and within a trusted learning environment. Collectively, we can do it.”
As one of the few experts working on the front line of inclusion, some of the projects Karen’s involved in are truly groundbreaking.
“I was speaking to people this morning about trials that are in South Africa where data providers have changed their business model to provide some free data to people who really can't afford it. So that's all in the pipeline. Some of this is really emerging and cutting edge. No one's a real expert in this. People have got the expertise, and we link together to make an expert experience. There are lots of people like me who are passionate about the issue.”