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Global Findex Database 2021 survey headline findings on account ownership

Account ownership is the fundamental measure of financial inclusion and the gateway to using financial services in a way that facilitates development. Owners of formal accounts—whether those accounts are with a bank or regulated institution such as a credit union, microfinance institution, or a mobile money service provider —are able to store, send, and receive money, enabling the owners to invest in health, education, and businesses.

Given the positive benefits enabled by account ownership, the growth captured in the Global Findex 2021 is cause for celebration. The following points are the headline findings on ownership:

  • Worldwide, account ownership increased by 50 percent in the 10 years spanning 2011 to 2021, to reach 76 percent of the global adult population.
  • From 2017 to 2021, the average rate of account ownership in developing economies increased by 8 percentage points, from 63 percent to 71 percent.
  • Mobile money is driving growth in account ownership, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 33 percent of adults have a mobile money account.
  • Recent growth in account ownership has been widespread across dozens of developing economies. This geographic spread is in stark contrast to that from 2011 to 2017, when most of the newly banked adults lived in China or India.
  • The gender gap in account ownership across developing economies has fallen to 6 percentage points from 9 percentage points, where it hovered for many years.

Despite these areas of progress, there continue to be gaps in financial access for typically underserved adults. Women, the poor, the young, and those outside the workforce all continue to have lower account ownership rates on average than men and adults who are higher-income, older, and in the workforce. Global Findex 2021 findings point to continued barriers that could be eliminated, such as:

  • Lack of money, distance to the nearest financial institution, and insufficient documentation are consistently cited by unbanked adults as some of the primary reasons they do not have an account.
  • Lack of a mobile phone is a common reason cited in Sub-Saharan Africa by 35 percent of unbanked adults for not having a mobile money account.
  • Global efforts for inclusive access to digital identification and mobile phones could be used to increase the account ownership of hard-to-reach populations.