This Focus Note first describes the challenges of the broader financial inclusion landscape and then explores three promising roles government can play in developing more financially inclusive ecosystems.
Over the past 30 years, access to formal financial services for low-income people has increased dramatically. However, misguided efforts to reduce criminal behavior threaten to slow the pace of that progress.
CGAP undertook a scenario-building exercise to help anticipate and prepare for the global demographic, political, and technological forces that will shape the future of microfinance. We and a wide range of outside experts grappled with the potential impact of these forces in order to craft positive and negative scenarios for the year 2015 that might instruct the microfinance actors today.
Despite significant evidence to the contrary, many financial institution managers and policy makers do not believe poor people save money. They tend to assume that poor people are “too poor to save,” that they prefer to consume rather than save excess income, or that when they do save it is only to access a loan.
Innovative use of information and communications technologies to inexpensively process a large volume of small transactions and deliver a wide range of financial services may help to make microfinance institutions (MFIs) more efficient and commercial banks more interested in serving poor people.
There is a vast potential market for retail financial services among low-income clients, and a growing number of commercial banks have successfully entered this market. These are the findings of recent research undertaken by CGAP, the global resource center for microfinance supported by a syndicate of 30 multilateral, bilateral, and private donors.
From the ‘agricultural credit era’ (1950s–1970s) through the ‘microenterprise era,’ institutional arrangements and product designs that characterized financial services to the poor were underpinned by a dominant image of the poor.