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Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Global Findex: How People in 148 Economies Save, Borrow, Make Payments, and Manage Risk

By Krista Hoff, Doug Randall, and Leora Klapper

What percentage of adults in South Asia have a formal account compared to those in Latin America? What are the most common self-reported barriers to financial inclusion among women and rural residents worldwide? To what degree has mobile money reached the unbanked in sub-Saharan Africa?

In the past, the answers to these questions were incomplete, and the details unsatisfying. Researchers and policymakers were forced to rely on a patchwork of incompatible household surveys and aggregated central bank data for a comprehensive view of the global financial inclusion landscape.

With the release of the Global Financial Inclusion Indicators (Global Findex), we now have a comprehensive, individual-level, and publicly-available database that allows for comparisons across 148 economies of how adults save, borrow, make payments, and manage risk.

Today, the World Bank released the first round of the Global Findex database, based on more than 150,000 interviews carried out by Gallup in association with its 2011 global surveys.

With more than 40 indicators, each differentiable by gender, age, education, income, and rural or urban residence, one can easily get lost in the nuances. But here are a few key findings that will be discussed further at the first public event featuring the data -- taking place at Gallup on April 30 -- and in a series of articles on Gallup.com, beginning April 30:

  • 50% of adults worldwide have a formal account, ranging from 89% in high-income economies to 23% among those living on less than $2 per day
  • 22% of adults worldwide report having saved at a formal financial institution in the past 12 months
  • 16% of adults in sub-Saharan Africa report having used a mobile phone to pay bills or send or receive money in the past 12 months 
  • 11% of adults in developing economies have an outstanding loan for emergencies or healthcare needs, but more than 80% of them use only informal sources of credit
The Global Findex database will facilitate a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the financial behavior of adults worldwide. With the release of future rounds, the data can be used to evaluate the expansion of bank agents and mobile money, as well as the effects of other country-level financial inclusion reforms. 

Gallup and the World Bank will host their first public event to discuss the data on April 30 at Gallup. Dr. Asli Demirguc-Kunt and Dr. Leora Klapper, the authors of the Global Financial Inclusion report, along with Alexia Latortue, the Deputy Director of CGAP, will share their insights and findings from the data. Dr. Bob Tortora, Gallup’s Chief Methodologist, will also share details about how the data were collected.

The complete database, report, and survey are available at http://www.worldbank.org/globalfindex.

Join the World Bank Wednesday, May 2, at 10 a.m. ET, for a one-hour live chat to discuss findings from "Measuring Financial Inclusion: The Global Findex Database."

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