UFA2020 Overview: Universal Financial Access by 2020

October 4, 2016


Some 2 billion working-age adults globally do not use formal financial services. Extending access to finance to them is the first building block to build a better life.

Key Messages
  • The UFA goal is that by 2020, adults, who currently aren't part of the formal financial system, have access to a transaction account to store money, send and receive payments as the basic building block to manage their financial lives.
  • The World Bank Group – the World Bank and IFC – has committed to enabling 1 billion people to gain access to a transaction account through targeted interventions.
  • 14 partners have pledged commitments toward achieving universal financial access.


Track global progress toward universal financial access. Check on commitments the World Bank, IFC and partners made to open access to financial services for unbanked people.


Extending access to finance is the first building block for people to build a better life

Financial access facilitates day-to-day living, and helps families and businesses plan for everything from long-term goals to unexpected emergencies. As accountholders, people are more likely to use other financial services, such as credit and insurance, start and expand businesses, invest in education or health, manage risk, and weather financial shocks, all of which can improve the overall quality of their lives.

While there has been progress toward financial inclusion, an estimated 2 billion adults worldwide don’t have a basic account.  Globally, 59% of adults without an account cite a lack of enough money as a key reason, which implies that financial services aren’t yet affordable or designed to fit low income users. Other barriers to account-opening include distance from a financial service provider, lack of necessary documentation papers, lack of trust in financial service providers, and religion.



The UFA2020 envisions that adults worldwide -- women and men alike -- will be able to have access to a transaction account or an electronic instrument to store money, send payments and receive deposits as a basic building block to manage their financial lives.

At the 2015 World Bank Group-IMF Spring Meetings, the World Bank Group and public and private sector partners issued numeric commitments to achieve Universal Financial Access by 2020 (UFA2020) and help promote financial inclusion. The vision for universal financial access was first announced by the World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim at the 2013 World Bank Group-IMF Annual Meetings.

Through the Universal Financial Access 2020 initiative, the World Bank Group – the World Bank and IFC – has committed to enabling 1 billion people to gain access to a transaction account through targeted interventions. 

The World Bank has set a target to help enable 400 million adults to be reached through knowledge, technical and financial support, while IFC has set a target to help enable 600 million adults to be reached through investment and advisory services.

As of June 2016, our advisory, technical assistance, and financing operations are projected to help reach 641 million new accountholders by 2020 (toward our 1 billion goal).

Cornerstone IFC UFA projects in 2016 included investments in innovative projects such as:

Ant Financial, the financial services subsidiary of Alibaba, China, in asset-backed securitization in the capital markets to grow their lending to MSMEs, and provide access to 1.75 million new accounts.

MasterCard settlement risk-sharing facility to create greater financial access and provide access to more than 5 million new accounts globally.

LAPO Microfinance Bank to fund expansion of Nigeria’s largest MFI, adding over 1 million new accounts.

Bandhan where IFC invested over $90 million and supported its transformation to a universal bank, to provide access to 38 million accounts

Other investments include in Postal Savings Bank China where IFC made a $286 million equity investment; FINO which is the largest digital payments provider in India, and bKash to develop a merchant payment system in Bangladesh.

We also work with partners to catalyze private sector investment in financial inclusion. Leading financial service providers have set ambitious targets in line with the UFA 2020 goal. The 14 UFA financial sector partners with concrete commitments include banks (Equity Bank, Bank Mandiri, State Bank of India), credit unions and savings banks (WOCCU, WSBI), card networks (Visa and MasterCard), microfinance institutions and alliances (Bandhan, Global Banking Alliance for Women, Microfinance CEO Working Group, Microcredit Summit Campaign, Pakistan Microfinance Network) and telecoms companies (Telenor, Ooredoo).

While the UFA2020 initiative focuses on 25 priority countries where 73% of all financially excluded people live, we are working with more than 100 countries to advance financial access and inclusion. India and China have the largest share of unbanked people and together they account for some 32% of them. The rest of the focus countries include: Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, DRC, Egypt, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, PakistanPeru, Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, Vietnam, Tanzania, Turkey, and Zambia.

Our approach centers on:

  • introducing transaction accounts,
  • expanding access points,
  • improving financial literacy, and
  • driving scale and viability through high-volume government programs, such as social transfers, into those transaction accounts. 

 We also work with countries to strengthen the following key building blocks: public and private sector commitment, enabling legal and regulatory framework, and bolstering financial and ICT infrastructure.

Globally, we engage with standard-setting bodies to set recommendations and guidelines that will to advance access to transaction accounts:

In 2015 a financial regulator taskforce chaired by the World Bank Group and the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI) issued the Payment Aspects of Financial Inclusion (PAFI) report, which identified needed improvements in payment systems and services to increase financial inclusion. The report outlines seven guiding principles and provides guidance to regulators and policymakers on actions countries can take to advance access to transaction accounts.