Wednesday 2nd May 2018
While the world has overall become more financially inclusive over the last three years, there remains a stubborn 7 percent gender gap in global financial inclusion numbers, with a 9 percent gender gap in developing markets, according to the 2018 Global Findex report and database released Thursday, April 19.
Produced every three years, the World Bank’s Global Findex is the world’s most comprehensive dataset on how adults save, borrow, make payments and manage risk. With data collected through nationally representative surveys of more than 150,000 adults in over 140 economies, Findex offers a comprehensive picture of demand-side data on financial services for both women and men at the global, regional and country levels. The 2018 survey is the third such report ever published and is based on data from 2017.
Despite the lack of progress in closing the global gender gap – which has remained the same since 2011 – there is some good news from the new data. Account ownership has risen around the world, with the inclusion rate increasing from 62 percent to 69 percent between 2014 and 2017. Over that same period, account ownership for women rose from 58 percent to 65 percent. The report attributed much of this to advances in digital technology, though it highlighted that financial institutions have largely fueled growth in account ownership since the beginning of the survey.
There was also positive movement in countries that have actively undertaken measures to support women’s access to their financial systems. India has decreased its financial inclusion gender gap from 20 percent to 6 percent since 2014. In Bolivia, an 8 percent gender gap in 2014 was reduced to zero in the 2017 survey. In fact, in regions like Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, there was an overall narrowing of the financial inclusion gender gap from 2014 to 2017.
The numbers show there is still a great deal of work to be done on women’s financial inclusion, but they also reveal some opportunities to address the issue. 75 million previously unbanked women were brought into the financial system between 2011 and 2017 through private sector efforts to switch cash wages to digital wages. 60 million women globally currently receive government payments in cash, and 605 million financially excluded women around the world own a mobile phone – both areas ripe for digital banking initiatives.
The 2018 Findex also highlighted the still-untapped nature of the Women’s Market for financial services providers beyond retail banking, showing opportunity across SME banking, housing finance and much more. To read the report and explore the Global Findex database, click here.