J.P. Morgan Payments

Finance with a mission

9 minute read


Payments can be a powerful force for good. They are often leveraged in smart ways by projects designed to drive positive economic outcomes that might include better financial management, business growth, or wealth creation. 

We spoke to five organizations and individuals for whom paytech is a crucial part of accomplishing a societally beneficial mission, whether that’s lifting indigenous people out of debt through automatic payments, equipping women artisans in India with e-commerce tools, or connecting charities with grants.  

Bringing digital payments to a country that runs on cash 

The mission

A decade ago in Mexico, only the largest merchants could accept card payments. SMEs and micro merchants would only accept cash, thereby shutting them out of many business opportunities—both in-person and online—and restricting their growth. Clip wanted to change that. 

The strategy

In 2012, Mexican fintech Clip introduced a card payments peripheral that connected to the headphone jack of a smartphone, effectively turning the device into a ready-made point-of-sale (POS) terminal. This provided any merchant with a smartphone the ability to accept any type of card payment. Today, Clip’s offering has expanded to a complete suite of commerce solutions for merchants, including accessible payments solutions that can easily be installed straight out of the box, such as a variety of card readers, terminals and points of sale. Clip also offers financial services, enabling even the smallest businesses to get access to credit. “Our hardware is the Trojan horse,” says Xavier Casas Turu, Clip’s Director of Corporate Development. “It’s the first venture into sophisticating their business and going from pen, paper and cash to digital inventories, in-person card acceptance, e-commerce payments and financial services.” 

The impact

Today, hundreds of thousands of merchants in Mexico use Clip for online and in-person payments, and the app ranks above Instagram and Facebook in Mexico’s app stores. Yet there is still massive room to grow: Out of an estimated 12 million merchants, more than 10 million still do not accept digital payments1, and around 77 percent of the total transacted volume in Mexico is still in cash2.  

“When a solution comes in that makes payments simple and accessible,” says Casas Turu, “it is always traditionally underserved merchants who benefit, given that they didn’t have access to those services before.” 

The SEWA Trade Facilitation Centre  
Helping informal workers in India gain access to financial tools 

The mission

Almost 90 percent of workers in India are “informal,” are not accounted for, are without any formal employer-employee relationships, and are hardly covered under laws3. Women in particular experience this type of employment. 

The strategy

The SEWA Trade Facilitation Centre (STFC) assists Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) members belonging to the informal economy to be producers, owners, shareholders, and managers. The goal is to enhance their incomes, savings and assets, and ensure socioeconomic security, sustainable employment and poverty alleviation among poorer rural and urban women and their families.  

The STFC has a designated Livelihood Recovery and Resilience Fund (LRRF) that enables access to bank loans from regulated commercial banks. The LRRF also has initiatives to provide emergency relief to SEWA members who face challenges brought about by major climate shocks, such as floods. 

The STFC facilitates training on e-commerce platforms, digital banking, and mobile wallets, which have helped support enterprises through challenges, including Covid and India’s 2016 state demonetization program that took many banknotes out of circulation. 

Beyond helping its members access the formal banking system, STFC also encourages them to avoid punitive debts. “We ensure that microfinancing facilities are available to our members,” says Rehana Riyawala, SEWA’s Vice President. “That avoids the need for high-interest, informal money lenders.”

The impact

Now in its 52nd year, SEWA has 2.9 million members across 18 Indian states. Looking ahead, building resiliency against climate change for its members is a major focus for SEWA. One goal, for example, is to enable members’ small enterprises to tap into green financing opportunities in the global banking market, helping them access investment streams targeted at sustainable development goals. 

American Financial Solutions
Lifting local indigenous communities out of debt 

The mission

Washington is among the top 10 U.S. states for credit card debt. In a cost-of-living crisis, with interest rates rising over the past two years, people are increasingly vulnerable to taking on debt from unscrupulous lenders or to racking up too much credit without support. People living in poverty are most at risk. In Washington state, this often includes local indigenous communities and former military personnel. The question is, how can they be better supported?  

The strategy

American Financial Solutions (AFS) is a national nonprofit credit counseling agency based in Seattle, Washington. Founded in 1999, a large portion of their local efforts support underserved populations struggling with debt, particularly indigenous peoples and other BIPOC communities. Director of Operations Jessica Williams-Oestmann says their work is all about “getting out there on the streets and talking: How to budget, manage debt, improve your credit score, buy a home.”  

AFS works with people to create workable debt plans to clear what they owe, setting up automatic payments to make steadily cutting down debt as easy as possible. The organization is also developing a secure online payment portal to make it easier for users to make one-off payments or catch up on ones they’ve missed. Longer term, the ambition is to integrate a wider range of payment options and streamline the process, so that users can take advantage of an app or text with click-to-pay functionality. 

The impact

In January 2024 alone, 208 clients completed a debt management plan, six were supported to make their first home purchase, and 46 avoided foreclosure on their home by seeking counseling with the agency. The organization is now working on adding video counseling to improve access to its services and is pushing for instant decisions from creditors. AFS has also adopted 72-month terms for eligible creditor accounts, enabling clients to make more affordable monthly payments.  

Identifying hard-to-find funds for the charities that need them  

The mission

“All charities have the same problem,” says Fundify Co-Founder Jeff Breen. “They depend on grants to survive, and they can’t find good data on where to find these grants.” In the UK alone, Breen says there are some 27,000 grant opportunities, totaling £8 billion ($10.2 billion) of charitable funding that is up for grabs. Yet charities lack the time, resources and knowledge to find them.

The strategy

Breen describes Fundify as “a single place to get verified, up-to-date data on funding opportunities.” In essence a search engine for grants, Fundify cuts down the effort involved in finding and applying for financing. Breen’s team is also building the UK’s first AI-powered research bot for such grants.  

The platform offers a tiered model: Larger charities and organizations pay a monthly subscription, but according to Breen, “if we come across someone with an educational or welfare need—they could be in poverty, have lost their job, live in a deprived area, or have a disability that makes it difficult to work—we make all the grant information available for free.” Tiered payment models are an effective way for at-risk individuals and low-income communities to access vital goods and services, similar to how the pharma industry has created affordability in developing markets to ensure access.

The impact

Time is money, and cutting time spent seeking funding is a fundamental part of Fundify’s value for users. “For every funding application that goes in, charities spend on average 32 hours researching, and then eight more hours writing bids. That’s a full working week. We reduce that process to about 25 minutes,” says Breen, who believes the solution can eventually be scaled worldwide. “For a small organization, if they find £3,000, that might be enough for their entire operating costs for that year.” 

And what’s J.P. Morgan doing?

After decades working in technology, Alan Torrance, Head of Open Source for J.P. Morgan Payments, became aware of a pressing challenge. “We see a huge digital poverty gap,” he says, “where a lot of children are not getting access to digital technology, or the resources on how to create with it.” He realized that the skills he learned working in payments tech could help.  

Torrance founded Make It Happen to “support these children to become digital creators who can harness technology and create their own amazing futures.” The charity supports schools to hold a competition for students to design their   “dream apps” on paper. The project has been generously supported by J.P. Morgan colleagues, who have donated their time and expertise. Volunteers from global J.P. Morgan tech centers judge the entries and then create each school’s winning app. These are made available online, so kids can start to play with and write simple code. 

Core to the project is the idea that putting tech in kids’ hands can help them understand and solve real-world challenges. There have been payments-related apps, such as a marketplace for chores to enable young people to negotiate for after-school “work”, with transparency for wages and responsibilities built in. Further, young app users can take the physical cash they’ve earned and upload it to a digital wallet, where they can explore the concept of digital money and spend it on their favorite pay-to-play apps.  

Since its inception five years ago, over 50,000 pupils in 260 schools have taken part. “These are big numbers, but the thing that matters the most to me is that there are some rural schools that have participated, with just 11 children,” says Torrance. “Reaching out to small schools and pupils in low-income communities matters, so that every child can get this opportunity.”