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Five myths on financial inclusion

Categories : Uncategorized
December 19, 2016
Tags : Europe, Financial inclusion, poverty, Unbanked
Worldwide, over two billion people are unbanked. In Europe, 139 million people are financially excluded and rely on cash for their daily purchases.
Guillaume Lepecq

According to the World Bank, an estimated 2 billion adults worldwide do not have a basic bank account. The majority live in emerging countries and in extreme poverty[1]. However, Mastercard have published an interesting report on financial inclusion in Europe, which demonstrates that there are unbanked people in mature economies as well.

139 million unbanked in Europe
The Mastercard study estimates that 139 million adults in Europe lack access to a basic bank account and electronic payment instruments, based on data from the World Bank. Whereas the share of adults who have a bank account reaches 100% in Switzerland, 99% in Sweden or the Netherlands, it is only 72% in Hungary, 70 % in Poland and 63% in Bulgaria.

33% of the unbanked are employed
The number of unbanked people who are in employment has actually increased from 28% in 2013 to 33% in 2016.

The majority of the unbanked have been in their current country all their life

87% of the unbanked have lived their whole lives in their current country. The number has increased since 2013. So much for the idea that financial exclusion is due to immigration or lack of documentation.

One in five people are unbanked because they lack trust in financial institutions
Mistrust in the banking sector is an important factor behind financial exclusion. One in five people, cite this as one of the main reasons why they do not have a bank account. One in ten say it is the main reason.

The young are more likely to be financially excluded
Being unbanked is not synonymous with being old. Far from it. 32% of the financially excluded are aged between 18 and 34. 9% are students. In the majority of cases, lack of money is the main reason why they do not have access to a bank account.

Mastercard concludes that the road to financial inclusion is digital. Perhaps. That may prove challenging however, as the report emphasizes the negative association between conventional financial services and online technology.

Meanwhile let’s make sure that these people have access to cash. Does it make sense to distribute social benefits electronically when the beneficiaries need cash? Does it make sense to restrict the usage of cash when so many people rely on it?


[1] In 2013, 767 million people lived on less than $1.90 a day (World Bank estimates).