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> Posted by Center Staff
Among the excitement of the World Bank Spring Meetings last week, key players in financial inclusion declared actionable commitments toward the goal of universal financial access by 2020 in a standout session. Those committing included banks, associations, payment companies, and telcos. The message of the commitments, and of the session’s panel discussion, was that we’ve achieved remarkable progress in the past few years, the goal of universal access by 2020 is very much in reach, and both of these are due in no small part to the aligning of stakeholder incentives and powerful partnerships. The panel highlighted that in three short years, the number of unbanked adults around the world dropped from 2.5 billion to 2.0 billion, according to the 2014 Global Findex.
The focus of the panel was mobilizing the public and private sectors to achieve the goal of universal financial access. Although achieving access is just the first step toward inclusion, it is a bridge to effective services usage, as well as to other development objectives like adequate housing, education, clean water, and healthcare. During the session, panelist Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group said, “If we reach universal financial access by 2020, we’re going to have a much better chance of getting to the end of poverty by 2030.” One particularly promising avenue to expanding access is digitizing government payments. Ajay Banga, CEO of MasterCard shared that 30 percent of the money that flows into the hands of the under-banked comes from governments. Delivering these payments into a mobile phone, card, or cloud-based account that can be accessed using biometric technology or other non-limiting customer-identification methods brings tremendous benefits. In this way, by migrating their social benefits from cash to electronic, Pakistan opened 3 million debit accounts in six months. Countries with national financial inclusion strategies achieve twice the increase in the number of account-holders compared to countries that don’t have strategies in place.
The following post was originally published on the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth blog.
Reaching full financial inclusion by 2020 will require supportive policies in every country around the globe. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s “Global Microscope on Financial Inclusion, 2014” assesses the policy environment for financial inclusion in 55 countries. The Microscope examines 12 policy dimensions essential for creating an inclusion-friendly regulatory and institutional framework. The rigorous model incorporates input from hundreds of policy makers and participants in the financial sector and a review of existing policies and implementation. The resulting rankings represent the best readily available source for judging the state of financial inclusion policy around the world.
What’s surprising about the 2014 Microscope results is their wide range. Out of a possible 100 points, the top scorer (Peru) received 87 while the lowest (Haiti) earned only 16. If full inclusion requires good policies, it is disappointing to learn that the median score across all countries was a mediocre 46.
> Posted by Jeffrey Riecke, Communications Associate, CFI
If you are in a wheelchair in Guatemala, lots of nice people will be willing to carry you up the stairs… But that’s not the point. A recent conversation with Alan Tenenbaum, a disability inclusion advocate based in Guatemala, offered me that perspective. Tenenbaum, who became a quadriplegic after suffering a spinal cord injury in his late twenties, focuses his work on the Latin American country. Those looking to advance disability inclusion in Guatemala, like in most countries, have their work cut out for them. Countrywide, according to Team Around the Child, less than two percent of Guatemalan adults with disabilities have work, most children with disabilities do not attend school, and only a small percentage of those in need of wheelchairs have one. To date, according to a recent paper from Trickle Up, most efforts to advance disability inclusion in Guatemala have been limited to urban areas – even though 50 percent of the country’s population resides in rural areas, where economic opportunities are harder to come by.
I sat down with Tenenbaum to get a sense for progress made and challenges still present in Guatemala for persons with disabilities (PwDs). Since his injury, Tenenbaum wrote a book sharing his story, En la Silla de Morfeo (On Morpheus’ Chair), started and led a foundation, Sigue Avanzando, and has regularly given speeches for schools, universities, news outlets, and private companies. At the heart of these efforts is what he identifies as the biggest barrier to disability inclusion: public awareness.
> Posted by Jeffrey Riecke, Communications Associate, CFI
Last week the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) announced substantial increases throughout the country’s microfinance market: growth in the volume of loans dispersed to microentrepreneurs, in the number of microcredit institutions offering savings services, and in the return on equity of rural banks with microfinance operations. Concerning regulation and institutional support, the recently released 2014 Global Microscope found that the Philippines has the best environment in Asia for financial inclusion.
In 2014, loans extended to microentrepreneurs in the Philippines totaled P9.3 billion (US$209 million) as of June, according to figures reported by BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. at the recent Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards in Manila – a roughly 7 percent increase over last year’s figure. On savings, in early 2012 only 22 banks in the country offered micro-deposit accounts. Now, 69 of the Philippines’ 183 banks with microcredit operations take deposits, with a total of 1.7 million micro-deposit accounts. Beyond credit and savings, 86 of the country’s institutions offering microcredit also provide microinsurance and 26 provide electronic banking services.
Adam Mooney is the CEO of Good Shepherd Microfinance, Australia’s largest microfinance organization.
As the first day of spring arrives in the Southern Hemisphere, we see new buds emerging, fresh blooms, and a new sense of hope and optimism. In Perth, Western Australia, the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) meets Monday, September 1 at a forum to stimulate, coordinate, and reflect on action to bring about financial inclusion. I am hopeful as the GPFI prepares recommendations for the G20 meeting in Brisbane in November this year, it will commit to powerful actions to boost the well-being of at least 2.5 billion people living in poverty around the world.
There is clear evidence that improving the economic well-being of the poorest third of the world’s population will have a profoundly positive impact on all people. Economic mobility and resilience at the family and community level directly leads to increased security, human connectedness, and hope for everyone. It also enables self-directed action to realize one’s own dreams and aspirations, however modest, leading to overall contentment. Yet despite such a compelling economic and social case, poverty and inclusion remain ideologically contested concepts where causality is often polarized into either inadequate human behavior or opaque environmental factors.
Speaking at the C20 Summit last month, I suggested that targeted inclusive finance around the world can and will be a key driver of economic growth, especially through production, employment, and education. It is not a coincidence that the number of people living in poverty is the same as those that are unable to access appropriate financial services, as measured by the World Bank’s Findex reports. These reports state that only half the world’s adults have bank accounts and of those, only 15 percent believe that their needs are understood and met by the products they have access to.
> Posted by Sonja E. Kelly, Fellow, CFI
We are in full World Cup fervor in the Accion offices around the world, with jerseys making appearances at global staff meetings, water cooler conversations centering on surprise advancements (and eliminations), and a high incidence of lingering trips to the conference room screen to check scores in between meetings and deadlines. You could say things are getting a little heated as the group of teams still in the running gets smaller.
There have been a few attempts to use this global competition as an opportunity to better understand our world. The Wall Street Journal published a “World Cup of Everything Else,” where countries can be matched up on categories from the hottest weather to the biggest eaters of seafood, and Dean Karlan produced a set of predictions based on population, poverty level, and interest in soccer to assess which country would experience the greatest increase in happiness with a World Cup victory (spoiler: Nigeria would have had the most aggregate happiness if it had won the tournament).
But what if the World Cup were a competition based on financial inclusion indicators? If we were to create a bracket where the country with the highest level of financial inclusion advanced, the European countries would all advance, which in my opinion wouldn’t be very interesting.
What if, however, we use the World Cup system to see where the highest number of financially excluded people are? We crunched the numbers to show you, of the countries that made it to Brazil for the competition, who would “win” the title of “highest number of financially excluded people.” Basing winners on the countries with the largest number of people without a formal bank account, we noticed a few surprises.
Read the rest of this entry »
> Posted by Jeffrey Riecke, Communications Assistant, CFI
What’s the state of funding for financial inclusion initiatives? CGAP’s survey of international funders found that total contributions globally are increasing, more money is coming from public not private funders, funding is extending beyond microfinance to other areas of financial inclusion, and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is increasingly a priority region.
The 2012 CGAP Cross-Border Funder Survey, an annual effort since 2008, surveyed 22 international funders representing 86 percent of the financial inclusion commitments reported for 2012 (a full list of the funders can be found here). The survey, supplemented by data from Symbiotics MIV Surveys, revealed that funders committed $29 billion in 2012, a 12 percent increase over 2011. CGAP indicates that this change stems largely from an improved global economy. This increase might also result from changes to this year’s survey methodology, which, to align with the changing financial services landscape, captures funding activity in a number of additional financial inclusion areas. These areas include financing for small-enterprises and client-level projects, such as financial capability projects.
As was the case in recent years, most funding for financial inclusion initiatives goes toward portfolio financing for retail financial service providers (FSPs). This figure reached $14.8 billion in 2012, representing 78 percent of the year’s commitments. The remaining commitments are in the following areas, all in roughly equal volume: designing suitable products and services, institutional operations, management and governance, and responsible practices. Small levels of support go to policy and market infrastructure. Survey responses indicate that funders identify lack of a suitable range of products and services and limited institutional capacity of FSPs as the major roadblocks to inclusion. In 2012, 10 percent of total funding went towards strengthening FSPs’ institutional capacity.
> Posted by Sonja E. Kelly, Fellow, CFI
The Financial Inclusion 2020 project at the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion is building a movement toward full financial inclusion by 2020. Accordingly, this blog series will spotlight financial inclusion efforts around the globe, share insights coming out of the creation of a roadmap to full financial inclusion, and highlight findings from research on the “invisible market.”
As people age, their use of financial services changes. We explored this in detail when we published a lifecycle approach to financial services in Peter Kasprowicz and Elisabeth Rhyne’s Looking Through the Demographic Window. People of working age need to plan for the future while also providing for their families in the present. People who are elderly need to be able to draw on their savings, manage their wealth, and in many cases, draw on and use their pensions.
When we look at the world as a whole, we see little difference between bank account ownership among the working age population (defined as ages 25 to 64) and those who are older (age 65+):
This global equality between the two age groups masks interesting variation in regions in account ownership by age. In Sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia and the Pacific, a much higher percentage of working age adults than older adults have accounts, while Latin America and the Caribbean shows little difference between those groups. Read the rest of this entry »
> Posted by Center Staff
Corruption at any step in a financial system jeopardizes financial inclusion. Globally, roughly 1 in 4 people paid a bribe to a government employee or institution in the last year. That’s the big finding from the Global Corruption Barometer 2013, the latest in Transparency International’s annual public opinion survey on corruption. This year’s survey polled more than 114,000 people in 117 countries on their experience with bribes, their perceptions of corruption across institution types, and their beliefs on the potential for ordinary people to fight corruption.
For many, especially those living on less than two dollars a day, a bribe added to the cost of a service can determine if a service is a possibility – this includes basic financial services. Of the countries included in the Barometer, it was found that 7 out of the 9 countries with the highest bribery rates were in sub-Saharan Africa. Sierra Leone recorded the highest rate with 81 percent of polled individuals reporting that they had paid a bribe during the past year, followed by Liberia, Yemen, and Kenya, with 75, 74, and 70 percent, respectively. According to Global Findex data, access to and usage of formal financial services in sub-Saharan Africa is among the lowest in the world.
> Posted by Sonja E. Kelly and Elisabeth Rhyne, Fellow and Managing Director, CFI
The Financial Inclusion 2020 campaign at the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion is building a movement toward full financial inclusion by 2020. Accordingly, this blog series will spotlight financial inclusion efforts around the globe, share insights coming out of the creation of a roadmap to full financial inclusion, and highlight findings from research on the “invisible market.”
This post is based on research from the Mapping the Invisible Market project published in the paper Growing Income, Growing Inclusion by Sonja E. Kelly and Elisabeth Rhyne. The paper was released today, and can be downloaded at mapping.financialinclusion2020.org/growing-income-growing-inclusion.
The World Bank, UN, and The Economist are all talking about it: growing income around the world. The UN’s goal to halve the number of people living in poverty by 2015 has already been achieved, and the media frequently spotlights growth in emerging markets contrasted with reports of malaise in the EU and US economies. In low and middle-income economies, it isn’t just the wealthy or the well-connected who benefit from this growth. Real incomes are rising among the poor, moving hundreds of millions of people from extreme levels of poverty into levels at which they begin to have more income flexibility.
Over the course of this decade, the bottom two quintiles in many of the world’s most populous countries will see movement into and even beyond the “vulnerable class,” defined as having an income of $4 to $10 per day. Read the rest of this entry »