At Stellar we talk a lot about the troubling lack of access to financial services. Today, however, the World Bank Group (WBG) brings us heartening news:
Since 2011 700 million new people have gained access to bank accounts, mobile money, or other financial institutions. Worldwide financial access has increased 20%.
WBG President Jim Yong Kim said, “Access to financial services can serve as a bridge out of poverty. We have set a hugely ambitious goal—universal financial access by 2020 —and now we have evidence that we’re making major progress.”
What the numbers mean
Studies link broader access to and participation in the financial system with job creation and increased education. The poor can better manage risk and absorb financial shocks when they’re included in financial services.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, mobile money accounts are expanding access to finance. Data show big opportunities for boosting financial inclusion among women and the poor. Here at Stellar, we hope to contribute with Vumi, an initiative by the Praekelt Foundation that uses our open-source protocol to let young girls save in airtime minutes.
Towards universal access
There’s still work to be done. In the poorest 40% of households in developing countries, more than half of adults were still financially excluded in 2014. And the gender gap persists: even in 2014, women were 7% less likely to have access than men.
Achieving universal financial access in the next five years is an ambitious goal. but we’re optimistic and committed. Stellar can help by providing accessible payments infrastructure and increasing financial literacy.