The concept of women-only banking is not foreign to banks in the UAE, where major financial institutions have women-only branches and even vendors are all women. (Click here for more information about banking in the UAE.)
Although many people might think that gender segregation is outdated in today’s gender-equal world, there’s always the other side of the coin where banks assume that every single person around the world makes the same investments and has the same banking needs.
In fact, there are a number of women’s business packages cropping up in banks over Europe that provide (according to the Guardian) a more modern, convenient and relaxed atmosphere alongside consumer loans (for things like cosmetic surgery). In Kenya, by contrast, one bank is financing women entrepreneurs and promoting women’s financial literacy, which is perhaps a more practical investment than the above marketing-orientated efforts.
By this standard, banking in the UAE is not as restrictive as it is in other countries. The HSBC Women in Business scheme, for example, helps women start and grow their own businesses. The project has associations with SHE Magazine, and provides information on what is available in terms of funding and support from the government and other public bodies.
Another bank in Mexico provides health insurance products tailored specifically for diseases that are common to its clients, for example, cervical cancer. A much more targeted (and probably successful) package must be about more than simply attracting customers.
This touches on a deeper, perhaps more complex question of whether in fact women have differing financial needs that banks are not addressing, and whether it’s important to adjust old-fashioned attitudes and products to accommodate all women. Adjusting health insurance and repayment loan structures is bound to have a much more effective result than simply changing the colour of a bank’s carpets.