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World Bank report says 700 million people hold bank accounts in three years

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EcobankA new release on Wednesday said 700 million people became account holders at banks, and other financial institutions such as mobile money service providers from 2011 to 2014.

The report indicated that the number of “unbanked” individuals dropped by 20 per cent to two billion adults.

The document was made available to Ghana News Agency by the Online Media Briefing Centre of the World Bank Group.

It quoted Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group President as saying: “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.

“This effort will require many partners – credit card companies, banks, microcredit institutions, the United Nations, foundations, and community leaders. But we can do it, and the payoff will be millions of people lifted out of poverty.”

It said from 2011 to 2014, the percentage of adults with an account increased from 51 per cent to 62 per cent, a trend driven by a 13 percentage point rise in account ownership in developing countries and the role of technology.

In particular, mobile money accounts in Sub-Saharan Africa are helping to rapidly expand and scale up access to financial services. Along with these gains, data also show big opportunities for boosting financial inclusion among women and poor people.

The findings published in the latest edition of the Global Findex, the world’s most comprehensive gauge of progress on financial inclusion.

It said financial inclusion, measured by the Global Findex as having an account that allows adults to store money and make and receive electronic payments, is critical to ending global poverty.

The studies show that broader access to, and participation in, the financial system could boost job creation, increase investments in education, and directly help poor people manage risk and absorb financial shocks.

Its 2014 Findex found there is still more work to be done to expand financial inclusion among women and the poorest households. More than half of adults in the poorest 40 per cent of households in developing countries are still without accounts in 2014.

The gender gap in account ownership is not significantly narrowing: In 2011, 47 per cent of women and 54 per cent of men had an account; in 2014, 58 per cent of women had an account, compared to 65 per cent of men.

Regionally, the gender gap is largest in South Asia, where 37 per cent of women have an account compared to 55 per cent of men (an 18 percentage point gap).

Source: GNA

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