This study examines the underreported role of banks in driving financial inclusion. Of the 3.2 billion people in the world with financial transaction accounts, 97 percent hold an account at a financial institution. According to the World Bank’s Global Findex database, over 90 percent of the 721 million new accounts opened between 2011 and 2014 were opened at financial institutions—the vast majority banks, but this figure also includes credit unions, cooperatives, microfinance institutions, and postal banks. Thanks to advances in technology, banks are increasingly designing viable business models to serve unbanked and underbanked populations, which Accenture has estimated as a $380 billion market opportunity.
To better understand the strategies enabling this growth, and to help banks, their partners, and the public sector work together to reach the next 2 billion, the Institute of International Finance (IIF) and the Center for Financial Inclusion (CFI) interviewed executives from 24 leading banks working in emerging markets to understand their business strategies, how technology and partnerships can enable inclusion, and where they see obstacles going forward.