“Access to financial services can serve as a bridge out of poverty. We have set a hugely ambitious goal – universal financial access by 2020 – and now we have evidence that we’re making major progress” - World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.
This mentioned progress was measured comparing the last two Global Findex (2011 and 2014), the world's most comprehensive gauge of progress on financial inclusion, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and in partnership with Gallup, Inc., covering more than 150,000 people in 143 economies, using randomly selected, nationally representative samples of adults age 15 and older. Surveys are conducted in the major languages of each economy to study how adults save, borrow, make payments, and manage risk. This update of the Findex tracks progress on global financial inclusion over time.
Studies show that broader access to, and participation in, the financial system can boost job creation, increase investments in education, and directly help poor people manage risk and absorb financial shocks.
Between 2011 and 2014, the percentage of adults with an account increased from 51 percent to 62 percent, a trend driven by a 13-percentage point rise in account ownership in developing countries and the role of technology.
The 2014 Findex found there is still more work to be done to expand financial inclusion among women and the poorest households. And the gender gap in account ownership is not significantly narrowing: In 2011, 47 percent of women and 54 percent of men had an account; in 2014, 58 percent of women had an account, compared to 65 percent of men.
Also, more than half of adults in the poorest 40 percent of households in developing countries were still without accounts in 2014. One way to rapidly expand financial inclusion is new technology, particularly mobile money accounts. Consider what is happening in Sub-Saharan Africa: It is the only region where, on average, more than 10 percent of adults report having a mobile money account.
Technology also can spur account usage and transform the way domestic payments are made, as 1.3 billion adults with an account in developing countries pay their trash, water, and electric bills in cash, and over half a billion adults with an account in developing countries pay school fees in cash.
Globally, paying government transfers and government wages through accounts (instead of
cash) can increase the number of adults with an account by up to 160 million, so governments and the private sector can play a pivotal role in rapidly opening accounts and increasing financial inclusion.
Globally, 76 percent of adults reported that, in case of an emergency, they could come up with the local currency, and 28 percent — 1.2 billion adults — in developing countries report they would use their savings in case of an emergency. Yet 56 percent of these adults do not save at a financial institution.
Along with all gains, data also show big opportunities for boosting financial inclusion.
"This effort will require many partners – credit card companies, banks, microcredit institutions, the United Nations, foundations, and community leaders. But we can do it, and the payoff will be millions of people lifted out of poverty.”