“Here’s how tech startups can be a positive force for good in the financial lives of so many residents in the Carolinas.”
September 13, 2021
By: Joshira Maduro
Editor’s note: Joshira Maduro is a research analyst at LendingTree in Charlotte. Startup Spotlight is part of WRAL TechWire’s Startup Monday lineup which also includes updates to our exclusive Startup Guide, our list of regional tech meetups, a review of last week’s headlines, and weekly calendars of events for the Triangle, the state, and a look ahead to next month.
When you hear the words “tech startup,” you might naturally think of traditional tech hubs such as San Francisco, New York City or even Austin, Texas. But tech is booming in North Carolina, employing thousands of people and helping to raise the financial fitness level of many local families.
This growing industry has the potential to create an increasing number of jobs and help local professionals upskill in order to meet the increasing demand for specialized jobs. Here’s how tech startups can be a positive force for good in the financial lives of so many residents in the Carolinas.
Sometimes, creating more financially sound communities is core to what tech companies do — sometimes it’s a bonus. For K4Connect, establishing stronger links between seniors, friends and family and professional caregivers is their main mission. This just so happens to be an excellent tool for combating senior financial abuse.
Elder financial abuse costs Americans $2.6 billion to $36.5 billion annually. That’s a huge range, and part of why it’s so hard to get accurate numbers on senior financial abuse is the lack of reporting, whether due to shame on the elder’s part or simply not knowing how or having the awareness that the abuse is occuring.
K4Connect’s suite of communication tools makes it easy for seniors in long-term care to connect with their families and caregivers. “Any time you’re communicating with your family more, you’re talking about what’s going on in their lives, the more you can make sure that no one’s being taken advantage of; that there’s not someone preying on them in a way that can be detrimental,” said Cindy Phillips, managing partner and chief of staff at K4Connect.
This connection can also help residents become more aware of ongoing scams targeted at seniors. “Our platform allows that information to get shared more quickly in a community. Any time you hear about a scam that is hitting our community, we would want to put the word out.”
Since seniors are often at risk of financial abuse when procuring services — home repairs, grocery delivery, ride sharing — the company is also developing a new feature that will aggregate services in one marketplace. Thoroughly vetting services, and creating a solution where seniors only have to input their financial information once, can help reduce financial risks.
“As we grow, we’re thinking, ‘How do we protect people and give them peace of mind?’” said Phillips.
Many tech companies might already be developing the tools to build financially fit communities without realizing it. You don’t have to be a fintech start up to help with finances. K4Connect proves that all companies that touch consumers can play a role in developing financial literacy.