> Posted by Jeffrey Riecke, Communications Assistant, CFI

There’s no arguing that quality data is essential to achieving full financial inclusion. But of course if we want data to have an actual impact, it’s what we do with it that counts. The new Financial Services for the Poor (FSP) Interactive Map from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation incorporates financial inclusion data, country-specific supply-side data to be exact, into an interactive map with the aim of helping to identify gaps in access to financial services, to assist in designing policy, and to inform decision-making.

The tool uses GIS location data on financial access points – commercial banks, ATMs, microfinance institutions, mobile money agents, credit institutions, and post offices, among others – layered onto high resolution maps to create a visual representation of the financial services landscape for a given country. In addition to access points, the tool is able to display a country’s mobile coverage, urban areas, state lines, poorer areas, and population densities. The map is outfitted with a calculation tool that lets you generate numbers on financial services access, broken down in a number of ways including percentage of population covered, and urban or rural area. The countries currently available are Nigeria, Uganda, and Tanzania. Here’s a video of the tool in action.

The Power of Mapping Financial Services Data, a paper that describes the tool in greater detail and offers ideas on how it can be used to inform decision-making, was released last month. The paper lists the following points, broken down by stakeholder types, for how it might be used.

  • Service Providers. To optimize the Cash-In and Cash-Out agent network expansion, improve liquidity management, identify new potential customers and market products, assess proximity and scale of competitors/partners.
  • Government Agencies. To design effective social transfer programs and incentives for the private sector to extend their offer to underserved and unserved areas. E.g. government cash-transfer programs – payments to government employees, pension, and safety-net payments.
  • Policy-makers and Regulators. Design efficient policies for financial inclusion and monitor their implementation. Provides financial market data and information to guide the market players in designing products, identifying opportunities, and responding to constraints/challenges.
  • Donors and Development Partners. To evaluate impact/outreach of financial inclusion initiatives. Create a geo-referenced information base – enable sector coordination and leverage. E.g. agricultural/health synergies with financial services.

The FSP Interactive Map is currently in beta, and the Gates Foundation welcomes feedback, to be given here. Bangladesh and Kenya will be added to the tool this coming September. Another coming attraction will be data on travel time to an access point to supplement the current data on distance to an access point.

Have you read?

Four Ways Big Data Will Impact Financial Inclusion

G20 Financial Inclusion Indicators: The New Data Sandbox

Announcing the Launch of the Global Financial Inclusion (Global Findex) Microdata