News

Global report shows big strides in reducing numbers of unbanked

24. 04. 2015

From 2011 and 2014, 700 million people became account holders at banks, other financial institutions, or mobile money service providers, and the number of unbanked individuals dropped 20 percent to 2 billion adults, according to the 2014 Global Findex report. The growing access to banking services will entail a boost in the number of ATMs.

Between 2011 and 2014, the percentage of adults with an account increased from 51 percent to 62 percent, a trend driven by a 13 percent rise in account ownership in developing countries and the role of technology. In particular, mobile money accounts in Sub¬Saharan Africa are helping to rapidly expand and scale up access to financial services, according to a World Bank press release.

Account ownership was up in all major regions, according to the Global Findex:

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We have set a hugely ambitious goal — universal financial access by 2020 — and now we have evidence that we’re making major progress, said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.

Still, the report noted, more than half of adults in the poorest 40 percent of households in developing countries were still without accounts in 2014. Moreover, the gender gap in account ownership is not significantly narrowing: In 2011, 47 percent of women and 54 percent of men had an account; in 2014, 58 percent of women had an account, compared to 65 percent of men. And in India, 43 percent of adults with an account made no deposits or withdrawals in the past year.

As the number of people with accounts grows, the demand for cash withdrawal will also intensify. To satisfy these needs financial institutions will have to deploy an army of new ATMs. A former survey from Retail Banking Research Ltd. showed that until 2016 the largest expansion in the number of ATMs (9.5 percent) will occur in the Middle East and Africa, while Asia and the Pacific won’t be far behind with an expected growth of 9 percent. Central and Eastern Europe (7 percent) and South America (6 percent) will also register a substantial rise in ATMs. On the other hand, in North America and Western Europe, that are already well equipped with ATMs, the growth in the number of cash machines is expected to be less than 2 percent.