Financial inclusion means that individuals and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services, regardless of their background or income.
Why it matters
Access to financial services is an important part of everyday life. A financial account can be used for receiving income and making payments. It’s also a gateway to savings, credit, insurance and pensions products.
Tackling financial exclusion to include more people in mainstream financial services has become an objective for governments worldwide.
Financial inclusion allows people to save for family needs, borrow to support a business, or build a cushion against an emergency.
When people are financially included, it helps improve the quality of their lives and contributes to the economic wellbeing of communities and societies.
Who is financially excluded?
Around one-third of adults worldwide – 1.7 billion people – do not have a bank account, according to the World Bank.
It’s not just the unbanked, those on low incomes or living in poverty who are financially excluded. Financial exclusion has multiple causes; it can also affect different people in different ways at different points in their lives.
Everyone from young to elderly people can be financially excluded. Small business owners, those with no credit history, those living through divorce, death or illness can also find themselves financially excluded.
Improving financial inclusion
Just as financial exclusion has many causes, so there are many ways to improve financial inclusion, including:
Better education and financial knowledge can empower people to better manage their money and improve their quality of life.
Better awareness of the financial products and services available can lead people to make better choices about what’s right for them.
Better products and services can better meet the needs of individuals and businesses.
Better data types and tools mean that financial service providers can gain insights to better understand and serve customers.
Better distribution can help improve access to financial services for un- or under-served people or groups.