World Bank Reports 20 Percent Drop in Unbanked Since 2011 (April 16, 2015)
The world’s unbanked population plummeted by 20 percent between 2011 and 2014, as 700 million adults became account holders, according to a new report from the World Bank. The agency’s latest Global Findex report credits the spread of financial services to increased penetration in developing economies, along with technological innovations—especially mobile money, which has rapidly expanded access to financial services in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Worldwide, the percentage of adults who had access to an account that enabled money storage and electronic payments jumped to 62 percent in 2014, from 51 percent in 2011, according to the Findex. Much of that growth is due to advances in financial technology. For instance, mobile money services such as M-Pesa have driven the rapid expansion of financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa—the only region where on average more than 10 percent of adults in each country reported having a mobile money account.
But despite the positive data, there remains plenty of work to be done to achieve the World Bank’s goal of universal financial access by 2020. The world’ poorest citizens are still notably underserved; more than half of adults in the poorest 40 percent of households in developing countries remained unbanked in 2014. Meanwhile, the gender gap in account ownership failed to narrow much since 2011, with women still lagging men by 7 percent worldwide.
See related stories: