In August 2006, 309 out of 1,100 municipalities in Colombia did not have the presence of a bank. In response, there was a clear priority to increase coverage in smaller municipalities to provide access to financial services, and the government established Banca de las Oportunidades (BdO) to promote access to financial services for low-income populations throughout the country. Through incentives offered by BdO to extend the presence of bank agents, 99% of all municipalities now have access to financial services. These interventions had a positive impact in that they ensured a more prominent presence of formal financial entities in remote areas and promoted the arrival of other banks to the same areas.
This report builds off of the CGAP Focus Note "Social Cash Transfers and Financial Inclusion: Evidence from Four Countries" and seeks to identify lessons learned in Colombia that are useful for other governments pursuing similar initiatives.