UFA2020 Overview: Universal Financial Access by 2020

August 18, 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.


Putting money in a savings account, paying bills online or applying for a loan has become an everyday part of life for many adults in the world. It’s hard to imagine not being able to save money in a bank, and instead have to rely on storing cash under the proverbial mattress.

Extending access to finance is the first building block for people to build a better life. Not only does it help families plan for long-term goals and emergencies, it also facilitates day-to-day living and yields positive results in many different ways. 

Financial access is the first step toward broader financial inclusion, where individuals and businesses can safely use appropriate financial services, including savings, payments, credit and insurance.

However, an estimated 2 billion people -- or 38% of adults in the world -- don’t have access to basic financial services and are excluded from the formal financial system, according to Global Findex 2014.

Their ranks include more than half of adults in the poorest 40% of households in developing countries.

Women in developing countries are 20% less likely than men to have an account and 17% less likely to have borrowed from a formal financial institution in the past year.

More than 200 million formal and informal micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in developing economies are underserved in their financing needs, according to IFC estimates.

In some cases, the lack of access is because banking outlets are too few, too far or unwilling to serve the poor, but more often it’s because many with meager incomes think they’re too poor to be able to benefit from financial services.

There is progress toward financial access.

Between 2011 and 2014, 700 million people became account holders at banks, other financial institutions or mobile money services providers, decreasing the number of financially excluded individuals by 20%, from 2.5 billion to 2 billion adults.

Extending access to financial services is necessary to reduce world’s poverty and increase prosperity.


At the 2015 World Bank Group-IMF Spring Meetings, the World Bank Group and public and private sector partners issued numeric commitments to help promote financial inclusion and achieve Universal Financial Access by 2020 (UFA2020). 

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 the basic building block to manage their financial lives.

The UFA2020 initiative is focusing on 25 countries where 73% of all financially excluded people live. India and China have the largest share of unbanked people. Together they account for some 32% of them. The rest of the top-priority countries include: Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, DRC, Egypt, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, Vietnam, Tanzania, Turkey, and Zambia.

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.
  • IFC has set a target to help enable 600 million adults to be reached through investment and advisory services.

The Bank Group has an opportunity to provide transaction accounts to adults who are informally financially active: relying on cash to make payments, save, or receive government payments.

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

The CPMI-WBG Task Force on Payment Aspects of Financial Inclusion (PAFI) launched an updated framework, which identified needed improvements in payment systems and services to increase further financial inclusion. The PAFI framework provides guidance to regulators and policymakers. 

Also, 14 partners have pledged commitments towards achieving universal financial access. They include Bandhan, Bank Mandiri, Equity Bank, Global Banking Alliance for Women (GBA), MasterCard, Microfinance CEO Working Group, Microcredit Summit Campaign, ooredoo, Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN), State Bank of India, Telenor, Visa, World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and WSBI.