Mobile phones and the Internet have accelerated financial inclusion worldwide. More than 69 percent of adults worldwide-3.8 billion people-now have access to a bank account or mobile money provider, an important step to escaping poverty. Although account ownership has surged in some economies, progress has been slower elsewhere, often because of high disparities between men and women and the rich and poor.
“When the government deposits social welfare payments or other subsidies directly into women’s digital bank accounts, the impact is amazing. Women gain decision-making power in their homes, and with more financial tools at their disposal they invest in their families’ prosperity and help drive broad economic growth.”
Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Meanwhile, 1.7 billion adults remain unbanked, yet two-thirds of them own a mobile phone that could help them access financial services. Digital technologies could take advantage of existing cash transactions to bring people into the financial system.
“Financial inclusion allows people to save for family needs, borrow to support a business, or build a cushion against an emergency. Having access to financial services is a critical step towards reducing both poverty and inequality, and new data on mobile phone ownership and internet access show unprecedented opportunities to use technology to achieve universal financial inclusion.”
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim