Financial Inclusion: A Path to Equality?


Financial inclusion has been a global goal for decades. Despite efforts, millions of people around the world still face barriers to accessing basic financial services. This lack of access not only hinders economic growth, but also reduces equality of opportunity in our societies.

Smart technologies as accelerators of change

Today, we have a wide range of digital technologies such as mobile banking, online payment systems and Artificial Intelligence solutions that can help overcome the barriers people face in accessing financial services. These digital tools offer consumers the ability to access and use financial services in a more convenient, cost-effective and secure way, giving people the opportunity to save money, establish strong credit histories and borrow for important expenses such as education, housing and entrepreneurship.

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For digital financial inclusion to be a success, active support among relevant stakeholders is essential. Governments, financial institutions, technology companies and civil society must join forces to develop policies and regulatory frameworks that encourage the adoption of safe and accessible digital financial solutions, as well as invest in technology infrastructure and promote financial literacy to ensure that people can take full advantage of digital services.

Businesses and the unbanked

For the unbanked, the ability to transact and access financial services through mobile devices or the internet provides greater security and convenience by preventing them from receiving money more efficiently, accessing credit to start businesses, or investing in education and housing.

Digital financial inclusion not only benefits individuals, but also has a significant impact on business and economic growth.  The digitisation of financial services drives economic activity and growth. Small businesses and entrepreneurs can take advantage of technology to access affordable finance and manage their transactions more efficiently. This promotes job creation and fosters economic inclusion of those traditionally on the margins of society.

Contributing to gender equality.

Similarly, inclusion has a positive impact on gender equality. Women are often disproportionately affected by financial exclusion and face additional barriers to accessing financial services. However, digital solutions give women the ability to access and control their finances, access credit and become entrepreneurs.

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Some figures linking financial inclusion and digital technology:

– Access to financial services: According to the World Bank’s Global Findex Database 2017, it is estimated that approximately 1.7 billion adults worldwide gained access to financial services between 2011 and 2017. Much of this progress is attributed to the expansion of digital financial services, such as mobile banking.

– Mobile banking: Mobile banking has played a key role in improving financial inclusion. According to the GSMA’s State of the Digital Economy report, by 2020, it was estimated that there were more than 1.2 billion mobile money accounts worldwide, providing access to financial services to people who were previously excluded from the traditional banking system.

– Digital payments: Digital payments have also experienced significant growth. According to Capgemini’s Digital Payments Trends Report, around 708.5 billion non-cash transactions were made globally in 2020. This shows a considerable increase compared to previous years and reflects the growing adoption of digital payment solutions.

– Financial inclusion in rural areas: Digital technology has played a crucial role in improving financial inclusion in rural and remote areas. For example, in Kenya, the M-Pesa mobile banking service has enabled millions of people in rural areas to access financial services, improving their ability to save, make payments and receive remittances.

– Women’s financial inclusion: Digital technology has contributed to closing the gender gap in financial inclusion. According to the GSMA’s Women and Mobile Money report, there were 276 million mobile money accounts owned by women in low- and middle-income countries by 2020. This represents significant progress in women’s economic empowerment and access to financial services.

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