10 reasons to be optimistic that full financial inclusion is possible through digital payments

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Global Insights


The past decade has seen great strides in building awareness of the global financial inclusion agenda, and very positive steps in achieving tangible change.

The latest Global Findex data revealed that 69 percent of adults – 3.8 billion people – now have a bank account. This is up from 62 percent in 2014 and just 51 percent in 2011. From 2014 to 2017, 515 million adults obtained a financial account, and 1.2 billion have done so since 2011.

The most important takeaway from these numbers is that the biggest gains overall and, the most significant progress in gender equality, are in countries where the government has made digital payments a top priority. The significant increase in the use of mobile phones and the internet to conduct financial transactions contributed to a rise in the share of account owners sending or receiving payments digitally from 67 percent to 76 percent globally. In the developing world, it went up from 57 percent to 70 percent between 2014 and 2017.

While there has been progress, the world faces a stark reality that too many adults remain unbanked – and the gender gap persists globally. In too many instances it is still very expensive to provide financial services to people with limited options for digital payments. The lack of payment options creates significant structural barriers to broader financial and economic inclusion.

Continuing to advance financial inclusion by facilitating access to digital financial services is a vital element in tackling inequality, improving prosperity, and empowering individuals worldwide – a fact recognized by its prominence on the global private and public sector agenda. The UN-based Better Than Cash Alliance, a partnership of governments, companies, and international organizations, has become a key agent for change. It has played a crucial role in driving progress by accelerating the transition from cash to digital payments.

As the world gets a progress report from the World Bank, the Better Than Cash Alliance outlines 10 key reasons to be optimistic about the journey toward full financial inclusion through digital payments.