- Great progress has been made in expanding financial inclusion. The number of people worldwide having an account grew by 700 million between 2011 and 2014. 62 percent of the world’s adult population has an account; up from 51 percent in 2011. Three years ago, 2.5 billion adults were unbanked. Today, 2 billion adults remain without an account. This represents a 20 percent decrease.
- As seen in Sub-Saharan Africa, mobile money accounts can drive financial inclusion. While just 1 percent of adults globally say they use a mobile money account and nothing else, in Sub-Saharan Africa, 12 percent of adults (64 million adults) have mobile money accounts (compared to just 2 percent worldwide); 45 percent of them have only a mobile money account.
- There are big opportunities to expand financial inclusion – particularly among women and the poor. The gender gap is not significantly narrowing. 58 percent of women have an account, compared to 65 percent of men. While the percentage of adults in the poorest 40 percent of households within each country without an account decreased by 17 percentage points in developing countries compared to 2011, more than half of adults in the poorest 40 percent of households in developing countries are still without accounts in 2014.
- By paying private-sector wages and government wages and transfers digitally (as opposed to in cash) governments and the private sector can play a pivotal role in rapidly opening accounts and increasing financial inclusion. Shifting domestic remittances payments from cash and over-the-counter transactions into accounts presents another enormous opportunity for increasing account ownership and financial inclusion, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Electronic payments to an account for the sale of agricultural products can increase the security of payments and provide a first entry point into the formal financial system.
- Account ownership is a first step towards financial inclusion. But what really matters is whether people actually use their account – and the data are promising. More than 65 percent of account users in developing countries report having used their accounts at least three times a month, to save, or to make or receive electronic payments directly from their account. Yet, 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.
- Financial inclusion also allows people to manage risks by providing a safe place to save money for emergency and giving them access to credit when needed: 28 percent of adults —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.
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