Economic Growth

Where adults lack access to a bank account

Pakistani migrant Mohamed Ayub, 51, holds the most valuable item he currently owns, his empty wallet, at a deserted hotel used by immigrants for temporary shelter on the Greek island of Kos, Greece May 27, 2015. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

India and China have the highest number of unbanked individuals. Image: REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

John McKenna
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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Thanks to smartphones and mobile banking, more people have access to a bank account today than ever before.

However, nearly 1-in-5 adults globally still don't have a bank account.

The countries with the most unbanked people are the world’s most populous nations and two of the fastest-growing economies: China and India.

Between them they make up 415 million of the 1.7 billion adults without a bank account.

Image: Statista

The UN identifies lack of access to a bank account as a key barrier to economic development, and places financial inclusion among its Sustainable Development Goals.

Without a bank account, billions of people have no access to lines of credit and rely on informal means of money management, such as borrowing from friends or pawnbroking.

However, the digital economy is helping to change the situation for millions.

According to the World Bank, 1.2 billion adults have gained access to a bank account since 2011, with 500 million of these getting their first account within the last three years.

It credits the rise of digital banking, and smartphones in particular, for this acceleration in financial inclusion.

The mobile money industry processes $1 billion a day through 276 mobile money deployments in 90 countries, according to GSMA, a global association of mobile network operators.

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Related topics:
Economic GrowthEquity, Diversity and InclusionJobs and the Future of Work
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