Monday 13th April 2015
In 2013, the World Bank Group set the objective of achieving universal financial inclusion by 2020, noting that the achievement of this goal would be a catalyst for ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting prosperity for the bottom 40 percent of the population in developing countries. Since that announcement, there has been a great deal of momentum within both the international public and private sectors to mobilize commitments that further this objective. On April 17, the GBA, along with partners including multilateral agencies, banks, credit unions, card networks, microfinance institutions and telecommunications companies, joined the World Bank Group’s movement with a commitment of its own:
Financial access can provide a number of opportunities for women in developing countries, including increases in income and business growth, reduction of risk and smoothing of consumption, and overall economic empowerment. There is still a significant gender gap in access to financial services for women. According to Findex, although the number of adults with bank accounts increased by 11 percentage points between 2011 and 2014, the gender gap in account ownership is not narrowing. Women are still 12% less likely than men to have an account at a formal financial institution. In addition to an access gap, there is also a service gap for women: according to a BCG study, 73% of women globally in 2008 reported being unsatisfied with banking services. Commercial banks play a vital role in women’s economic development, and the Global Banking Alliance for Women (GBA) and its members believe that a more holistic approach is needed to reach previously unbanked women. We enthusiastically support the World Bank Group’s goals to achieve Universal Financial Access by 2020, and commit, with a sub-set of our members, to providing financial access to 1.8 million previously unbanked women customers in Latin America and Africa by 2020.
The announcement was made onstage at the Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. At the event, which focused on galvanizing private sector investment and innovation to accelerate universal financial inclusion, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim highlighted the progress that has been made on this front in the past few years.
“More than 700 million people gained financial access between 2011 and 2014, and this gives us fresh evidence that our ambitious goal of universal access by 2020 is attainable,” he said, noting this represents 20% of the previously unbanked. “The World Bank Group’s role is to convene and energize a coalition of partners — and also to step up our work.”
Apart from the GBA, the coalition of partners whose initiatives were announced onstage included GBA member Women’s World Banking, represented as part of The Microfinance CEO Working Group, who together committed to 70 million new accounts by 2020. Big goals were also committed to MasterCard, Visa, Bank Mandiri, State Bank of India, Bandhan, Equity Bank, MicroCredit Summit Campaign, Ooredoo, Telenor Group, World Council of Credit Unions, and World Savings and Retail Banking Institute.
Read more about the commitments here.