Global Findex 2017: financial inclusion and the Fintech revolution

World Bank

In April the World Bank published Global Findex 2017: Measuring financial inclusion and the Fintech revolution*. This is the third edition of the world’s most comprehensive database on how people make payments, save money, borrow and manage risk. It is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Since the first edition in 2011, the Global Findex database has been analyzing progress made towards achieving universal financial access by 2020, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda published by the United Nations.

Global Findex comprises a key report that measures global progress towards financial inclusion and collates data obtained from national representative surveys** conducted in over 140 countries. There are new questions in its latest iteration about digital technology; mobile phones and internet, key factors in driving financial inclusion.

According to the report, since 2011 the percentage of people with a bank account has risen by 18 percentage points to 69% of the population. However, in some economies, progress has been slower and impeded by enormous social and gender inequality. Thus, although between 2014 and 2017 a total of 515 million adults opened bank accounts, 1.7 billion people are still unbanked*** and there is still a significant gender gap worldwide: a seven-percentage point difference between men and women has persisted since 2011****.

The report also flags up the recent increase in the number of digital payments. In just three years the percentage of digital payments by mobile phone or online has increased by 11 percentage points, amounting to 44% in developing economies, and 91% globally*****. Specifically, since 2014 the proportion of adults making or receiving digital payments has increased by about 8 percentage points in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Haiti and Peru.

In conclusion, the report highlights that digital technology provides an opportunity to broaden financial inclusion and that although progress has clearly been made since the last edition of Global Findex, the need to give greater impetus to measures supporting financial inclusion remains.

* Demirgüç-Kunt, Asli, Leora Klapper, Dorothe Singer, Saniya Ansar and Jake Hess. 2018. Global Findex 2017 database: Measuring financial inclusion and the fintech revolution. Washington, DC: World Bank. Licence: Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 3.0 IGO

** Surveys carried out with more than 150.000 adults aged over 15.

*** Nearly 50% of the unbanked population is in just seven developing economies: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan

**** 65% of women, compared to 72% of men.

***** These percentages are calculated on the proportion of people with a bank account; that is, 70% and 97%, respectively.