> Posted by Joy Kim, Financial Inclusion Analyst, MIX

What’s better than reading about data? Visualizing it! Pardon us, then, as we offer a few words on CFI and MIX’s new FI2020 Inclusion Visualizer, a powerful tool to manipulate, visualize, and download images of data related to financial inclusion.

The Inclusion Visualizer, harnessing publicly available data from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Economist Intelligence Unit, and others, allows users to explore financial inclusion topics across country, region, and income levels. For the adventurous, users are able to customize the range of visualized categories and sub-categories. For example, do you want to know what percent of women with a primary school education or less have their own account at a financial institution? The Visualizer also offers targeted navigation options that focus on key areas, like the financial inclusion infrastructure, the policy environment, and technology.

How to Get the Most Out of the FI2020 Inclusion Visualizer

To get a better understanding of the landscape of financial inclusion around the globe, we suggest you begin by exploring Sections 1A through 1F. One particularly interesting section is Account Ownership (IC) because this metric is, perhaps, the simplest method for measuring financial access. Financial Inclusion Over Time (1B) illustrates changes not only in account ownership, but also with financial activities related to credit, savings, withdrawals, and deposits. As you’ll see, the world has seen growth in all of these activities with the exceptions of withdrawals and deposits, which implies that greater effort is needed on a global scale to increase usage of accounts.

After you’ve spent some time exploring the first sections, it’s time to dig in deeper. Although examining financial inclusion progress over time is important, connecting those changes with other relevant factors can help uncover which factors directly or indirectly affect financial behavior. The second and third groups of sections in the Visualizer allow you to explore the connection between financial behavior and factors including technology, infrastructure, income, and demographics. While correlation certainly does not mean causation, understanding whether relationships exist between two or more variables can help us begin to explore the various factors influencing financial inclusion efforts.

Let’s take a look at the Inclusion Visualizer in action.

Areas of Further Study

We know that mobile phone subscriptions have been rapidly increasing in every country since the mid-2000s. But is there a correlation between this technology adoption and the number of mobile finance accounts? The Visualizer will help us explore this question.

In the Use and Technology tab of the Technology and Inclusion section (2E), we see that within the low-income group, East African countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, and Tanzania have the highest number of mobile finance accounts (ranging from about 35 to 58 percent of the population), even though they do not have the highest number of mobile cellular subscriptions. This disparity leads us to ask the question: In countries with a relatively high number of mobile finance accounts compared to total mobile subscriptions, how are people using these accounts?

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By examining the Use of Mobile Services tab we see that, for most low-income countries, sending and receiving remittances are the primary uses of mobile accounts. As is briefly illustrated here, the Inclusion Visualizer can guide you from a broad area of interest to focused, specific insights.

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Let’s take another example. What about the intersection of income and behavior? In the Growing Incoming, Growing Inclusion section, the Income and Use tab shows changes in the correlation between the daily income of the bottom 40 percent of the economic pyramid and financial services use. For almost all of the countries included in the Inclusion Visualizer, daily income did not change significantly from 2011 to 2014, but the amount of financial activities increased. The minimal changes in income are an insufficient explanation for the large increase in use, leading us to ask: Which other factors stimulated a greater use of financial products?

Answering this question would require additional investigations, but arriving at this juncture shows how the data overlays in the Inclusion Visualizer encourage us to dig deeper, and uncover areas of further study.

Be Curious, Explore, and Share

Each visitor to the Inclusion Visualizer will have different interests, questions, and perspectives related to the various financial inclusion topics. Our hope is that the easy-to-use tool provides a simple interface to play with the vast data related to financial inclusion, whether you’re a novice or an inclusion data veteran. And we encourage you to take advantage of the platform’s ability to visually capture your work – share the insights you uncover with colleagues and partners!

The FI2020 Inclusion Visualizer can be accessed here.

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