The World Bank Group has a vision, an ambitious one. They want to achieve universal financial access by 2020. Despite their mostly successful efforts over a seven-year period (FY2007 – FY2013), it is thought that more can be done to extend financial services to the poor.
Worldwide a staggering two billion adults do not yet have bank accounts, and an estimated 200 million micro and medium-sized enterprises do not have the access to affordable financial services and credit.
When a large percentage of the population worldwide do not have the ability to use banking, then something needs to be done. This situation is changing, due partly to advancements but also the decline in global poverty. There are many companies working towards delivering banking solutions to help drive financial inclusion.
Misys is just one such company that are looking at systems using mobile technology and digital payment systems. This use of technology would avoid the need to set up branches of a bank in every town and make banking more accessible in remote or rural areas, by adding customers to the bank via the handset, and completing simple transactions allowing the customer to send money via a mobile phone or pick up at an ATM. With 63% of people in developing countries predicted to have smartphones by the end of 2016, this unbanked solution could go a long way towards bridging the gap of financial exclusion. This video shows how effective this help has been:
The Brooking Financial and Digital Inclusion Project
The FDIP has been used across 21 countries to assess access to and usage of affordable financial services. In 2015 these countries were evaluated based on four levels of financial inclusion: country commitment, mobile capacity, regulatory environment and adoption of both traditional and digital financial services. The results are intended to help improved financial inclusion in these countries as well as around the world.
To look at this in depth, we can look at the countries in order of their total scores.
Kenya 89% – Significant strides in advancing financial inclusion, mostly credited to the country’s mobile money ecosystem and high take-up rate.
South Africa 80% – Steady growth in financial inclusion experienced.
Brazil 78% – Positive steps on a national scale towards financial inclusion, further efforts required to broaden the number of financial services available to low-income consumers.
Rwanda 75% – Progress towards financial inclusion evident. Well positioned to continue to strengthen financial inclusion status.
Uganda 75% – Greater access to finance due to the expansion of mobile money services. But room for growth remains.
Chile 74% – One of the most robust South American economies, high inclusion in urban areas with greater effort needed in rural areas.
Colombia 74% – Significant strides in developing enabling regulations to advance access to financial services. However, use of digital financial services person to person less common despite personal income growth in the region and high mobile penetration rates.
Turkey 74% – Has clear economic advantages. Opportunities exist for greater equality and supporting regulation within the existing framework.
India 72% – Tremendous potential for growth in financial inclusion. Advanced digital payments infrastructure, mobile capacity, and national-level commitment to financial inclusion are expected to facilitate efforts to advance quality financial services amongst those outside traditional banking systems.
Mexico 72% – Limited take-up of mobile money services in more rural areas, however increasing access points in these areas may help accelerate financial inclusion.
Nigeria 72% – Clearly demonstrated progress towards financial inclusion, yet further work remains with regard to expanding access to financial services amongst a large number of adults currently excluded from the formal financial sector.
Tanzania 71% – Significant progress in advancing financial inclusion commitments due to strong support from the central bank.
Indonesia 70% – There is high mobile money prospect, but a more heightened awareness will be needed to motivate adoption.
Zambia 69% – Investment in financial services industry may contribute to greater financial inclusion.
The Philippines 68% – Evidence of strong commitment, but due to geographic barriers the scale of growth has been hampered.
Bangladesh 67% – Brisk growth rate but with a high level of unregistered use and overall a low adoption rate.
Peru 66% – Committed to advancing access to, and use of, quality financial services. Room for further improvement in respect of fostering a more robust digital financial services landscape and making those services accessible.
Pakistan 65% – Advancement of inclusion in both public and private sector initiatives
Malawi 63% – Progress towards financial inclusion constrained due to economic and infrastructural conditions. A number of challenges to financial inclusion including limited economic capital, telecommunications infrastructure, low literacy rates and mobile and banking penetration.
Afghanistan 58% – Committed to improvement regarding infrastructure and adoption
Ethiopia 54% – Poverty and a need to improve communications markets have posed a challenge to financial inclusion. However, strong economic growth may contribute to greater provision of formal financial services.
To conclude, financial inclusion is certainly advancing, and with more effort going into providing solutions for the poorest and least developed countries, it won’t be long before these figures rise dramatically.