Responsible Finance Forum

By the Numbers: Benchmarking Progress Toward Financial Inclusion

Sonja E. Kelly and Elisabeth Rhyne
01 June 2015
Source:  Center for Financial Inclusion ACCION

Can the world achieve full financial inclusion by 2020? It is an audacious question, but one well worth considering, especially in light of a recent wave of commitments by public and private actors.

Through the Financial Inclusion 2020 project, the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion (CFI) has been examining this question for several years. In this report, CFI takes a quantitative look at recent progress around the world and makes forward projections to 2020. The headline is that every region, income level, and “slice” of the global population is moving toward greater financial access. According to the World Bank’s Global Findex data, the number of financially excluded people globally dropped from 2.5 billion to 2 billion in the three years from 2011 to 2014. At this rate, by 2020 there will only be about 1 billion excluded adults. With an added push, the World Bank’s goal of universal access to some type of financial account by 2020 seems within reach.

This report steps beyond the headline to ask several probing questions. Who will the excluded be in 2020? Where will they live, and what population groups will they belong to? Will financial access be meaningful for the newly included? Will they use their accounts actively? Will customers deepen savings and borrowing and improve their financial resilience? The report also examines the steps that public and private actors are taking to build a financial inclusion ecosystem. It reveals a level of vibrancy that makes us optimistic about continued or even accelerating momentum.