The Strategist

World Bank: One third of Earth population has no access to financial services

04/20/2018 - 14:37

Various financial services have covered two-thirds of the world's adult population. 69%, or 3.8 billion people, have bank accounts or a mobile payment service provider, according to a World Bank (WB) report on the use of financial services. In 2011, this indicator was 51%, in 2014 - 62%. However, the gap between developed and developing countries remains as the shares of consumers of financial services reach there 94% and 63% respectively.

1.7 billion adults are not connected to banking services. About half of them account for just seven developing economies (and most populated countries) - Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan. However, wo thirds of them use mobile phones, which gives them access to financial services. For example, mobile money has become the driving force in the growth of the sector in sub-Saharan Africa: the proportion of those using them has almost doubled (to 21%), while the proportion of those with bank accounts has not changed. The WB also sees the potential in "digitalization" of payments: according to analysts, this will attract another 20 million people in Europe and Central Asia, where 17% of adults have opened accounts specifically for receiving funds from the state in recent years. In Latin America and Caribbean, another 30 million people did it due to digitization of salaries. The World Bank associates another possibility for expanding financial services with persisting gender inequality in access to them. For example, 72% of men and 65% of women in the world have an account (the gap in the Middle East and North Africa is maximal is 52% and 35% respectively). As the WB notes, "working with women opens the most opportunities for increasing the coverage of financial services."

However, the report notes, the bank account does not necessarily imply savings: 42% of respondents saved nothing in the last year. There were only 26% of them in high-income countries, while in Brazil, India, Russia and Turkey, where more than 70% of adults have bank accounts, about 60% of respondents say that they have no savings strategies. At the same time, about half of the adult population of the Earth borrowed money last year: in developed countries it is mostly loans, and citizens of developing countries prefer to borrow money from family or friends.