UFA2020 Overview: Universal Financial Access by 2020

October 1, 2018

Key Messages
  • The UFA goal is that by 2020, adults, who currently aren't part of the formal financial system, are able to 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.
  • Over 30 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.


Financial inclusion is a building block for both poverty reduction and opportunities for economic growth, with access to digital financial services critical for joining the new digital economy.

Financial inclusion 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 savings, 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 1.2 billion people have opened a financial account since 2011, there are still an estimated 1.7 billion adults worldwide (or 31% of adults) who don’t have a basic transaction account.  Globally, two-thirds of adults without an account cite a lack of 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 and lack of trust in financial service providers.


The UFA2020 initiative 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 adopted measurable commitments to achieve Universal Financial Access by 2020 (UFA2020) and help promote financial inclusion.  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. 

As of the end of December 2017, our advisory work, technical assistance financing operations and investments are projected to help reach 738 million new accountholders and we are on track to meet the goal of 1 billion by 2020..

We also work with more than 30 partners to catalyze private sector investment in financial inclusion. Leading financial service providers have set ambitious targets in line with the UFA 2020 goal. 

While the UFA2020 initiative focuses on 25 priority countries where almost 70% of all financially excluded people live, we are working with more than 100 countries to advance financial access and inclusion. Our approach centers on:

  • creating a regulatory environment to enable access to transaction accounts
  • expanding access points
  • improving financial capability
  • driving scale and viability through high-volume government programs, such as social transfers, into those transaction accounts
  • focusing on reaching disadvantaged populations, such as women and rural producers 
  • encouraging use of financial services, to move from access to finance to account use
  • working through critical value chains in priority countries to digitize payments, and creating access to other financial services such as savings, insurance, and credit

Platform approach includes three basic functionalities or layers – a biometric identity database, virtual payment addressing and digital payment interoperability.

National policies that provide scale through combinations of digital ID, digitized G2P payments.

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

The UFA framework for action is based on the Payment Aspects of Financial Inclusion (PAFI)  framework, which was developed in 2015 a financial regulator taskforce chaired by the World Bank Group and the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI). 

In 2017, the G20 committed to advance financial inclusion worldwide and reaffirmed its commitment to implement the G20 High-Level Principles for Digital Financial Inclusion, which the World Bank Group helped develop under the China G20 Presidency leadership in 2016. The eight High Level Principles encourage governments to promote a digital approach to financial inclusion, and are being used as a reference tool by many countries.