The G20 at the Mexico Summit in Los Cabos next weekend is about to re-affirm the importance of data for financial inclusion. We are hopeful that the G-20 Leaders will approve a Basic Set of Financial Inclusion Indicators, thus sending a clear and strong message about the importance of data. Countries themselves are prioritizing data collection, and financial inclusion data is now even high on the Irving Fischer Committee’s agenda.
Over the past weeks, we have run a blog series that provided perspectives and insights from policy makers, researchers, and practitioners, commenting on the new demand-side data made available by the Global Findex. Here is a recap:
- Two of the GPFI Chairs shared with us the five indicators in the proposed Basic Set and called for action so every country will be able to take responsibility for the collection and monitoring of their own comprehensive set of financial inclusion indicators.
- Asli Demirguc-Kunt’s insights reminded us of the critical role of policymakers in financial inclusion and how, at both national and global levels, they can continue to tackle barriers to access, such as documentation requirements.
- Leora Klapper discussed the important —and it seems almost systematic—access gaps, most notably for women, youth, the elderly, and people living in rural areas.
- Monique Cohen pointed out that when it comes to clients, homogeneity is out, diversity is in, and understanding clients requires multi-disciplinary approaches that go beyond research questions that focus uniquely on access.
- Jonathan Morduch explained how Findex and the financial diaries are complementary approaches to learn more about informality and suggested that we need to better understand what informal savings is, for example, actively putting money on a savings club or (passively) holding onto cash, keeping it at home for instance?
- The Findex blog series also hinted at several opportunities. Jake Kendall and Sheila Miller discussed the opportunity to build deeper financial relationships with the 38 percent of account holders in Sub-Saharan Africa that already receive payments or remittances in their savings account but only use those accounts to withdraw the money.
- Finally, Beth Rhyne told us how practitioners can test their personal assumptions about clients against what 150,000 real individuals across 148 countries actually reported. She wrote that Findex is not a substitute for thorough market research, but it is a useful benchmark.
We should not miss the opportunity for continued investment in data infrastructure. The capability to analyze and interpret data will also be key to advance financial inclusion. One next step, now that we have made so much progress on data, is to connect the dots between various data efforts to tell a more complete story about the state of financial access.