Research & Analysis

Financial Access 2012

Half of the adult population around the world does not have an account at a formal financial institution. And 75 percent of poor people are unbanked (Demirgüç-Kunt and Klapper 2012). Yet, research shows that people have active financial lives and need a range of services to take advantage of economic opportunities and manage and mitigate risks (Collins, Morduch, Rutherford, and Ruthven 2009). Expanding access to a broad range of financial services to households and enterprises has never had such strong momentum among national policy makers and global standard setters.

To create inclusive financial systems that serve more people with a range of services at lower cost, a diverse set of providers, supporting financial infrastructure, and protective and enabling policies will all be needed. As the financial landscape has become more complex with an ever wider array of providers and delivery channels, the data architecture for capturing financial inclusion is also evolving. To have a comprehensive view of access to financial services—payments, savings, credit, and insurance—data must be collected from more sources, and on a variety of dimensions, including access, usage, and quality.

Each year, the Financial Access report aspires to include data on an increasing number of financial service providers, based on data availability. Financial Access 2011 was an exception that provided an overview of the supply-side data landscape with little fresh data. Financial Access 2012 builds on the work done in Financial Access 2009 and Financial Access 2010 to provide new data on financial access. Using eight years of data (2004–2011) from the IMF’s Financial Access Survey (FAS) in combination with other relevant data, Financial Access 2012 further contributes to measuring and analyzing the current state of financial inclusion. (See Annex 3 for FAS definitions and data availability.)

Expanded data coverage provides a broader and better understanding of market dynamics This year’s report is an important step in leveraging the FAS data to provide an up-to-date and in-depth view of the state of financial inclusion today, complementing other supply- and demand-side data initiatives in data collection and analysis. Available data have expanded every year, though they remain far from complete.

As regulators work to meet the financial inclusion needs in their countries, they increasingly recognize the importance of information on the supply of financial services. Regulators are expanding their data collection efforts in this area, beginning with data on the deposit-taking regulated institutions they oversee while also starting to include data from other financial service providers. This broader view of all institutions that serve poor people underpins improved policy design.