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Financial Inclusion Remains a Pipe Dream

Citi GPS, or Global Perspectives and Solutions, is Citibank’s premier thought leadership product, designed to help people trace the global economy’s most demanding challenges and to anticipate future themes and trends. Its latest publication is ‘Banking the Next Billion: Digital Financial Inclusion in Action’. The report says despite the existence of modern banking for several centuries now, universal access to banking remains a pipe dream. It highlights a Word Bank data for 2017 to reveal that 31% of the world’s adults (or 1.7 billion adults) still do not have access to a formal financial institution account. Here are the highlights in the report.

In Asia, almost a third of the adult population is unbanked as of 2017. The situation is somewhat better in the case of Africa and Latin America, where 50-60% do not have a bank account. 

As much as 49% of the global unbanked adults reside in Asia followed by Africa (25%). The two markets with the largest global population – China and India – had 12% and 11% of the global unbanked adults, respectively. The top ten markets (based on the presence of unbanked population within the global mix) together comprised 60% of the global unbanked population pool at the end of 2017. There is a high percentage of adults reporting insufficient funds to maintain the minimum balances required with traditional banks as their primary reason for not having an account. Apparently, there is unprecedented growth in financial inclusion. In 2011, half the world’s adult population were unbanked. By end of 2022, around 15% of global adults – roughly 1 billion adults – would remain unbanked. Between 2011 and 2014, the percent of unbanked adult population globally declined from 49% to 38%. Similarly, between 2014 and 2017, the percentage of unbanked adult population globally further declined from 38% to 31%. Building on the historical trends over 2011-17 there could be an underlying 10 percentage point additional reduction in the percent of unbanked adults over 2017-22.

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