More Filipinos gain access to financial accounts — World Bank
Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - April 21, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Efforts to deepen financial inclusion in developing countries are gaining ground as over a third of Filipino adults now have financial accounts, the World Bank Group said.

Based on its Global Findex Database 2017, the World Bank said 69 percent of adults or 3.8 billion people worldwide now have an account at a bank or mobile money provider, which is a crucial step toward poverty alleviation.

This is up from 62 percent in 2014 and just 51 percent in 2011.

The World Bank said in the case of the Philippines, the number of accounts reached 34 percent in 2017, higher than the 31 percent in 2014 and 27 percent in 2011.

The World Bank attributed the growth in financial inclusion to the significant increase in the use of mobile phones and the internet to conduct financial transactions.

Financial inclusion means that individuals and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs — transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance — delivered in a responsible and sustainable way, the World Bank said.

World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim said the improvement in financial inclusion is a vital step in reducing poverty globally.

“Financial inclusion allows people to save for family needs, borrow to support a business, or build a cushion against an emergency,” Kim said.

“Having access to financial services is a critical step towards reducing both poverty and inequality, and new data on mobile phone ownership and internet access show unprecedented opportunities to use technology to achieve universal financial inclusion,” he added.

Despite the movement to a more financial inclusive world, 1.7 billion adults remain unbanked, yet two-thirds of them own a mobile phone that could help them access financial services.

The report emphasized that digital technology could pave the way to bringing more people into the financial system.

“For example, paying government wages, pensions, and social benefits directly into accounts could bring formal financial services to up to 100 million more adults globally, including 95 million in developing economies,” the World Bank Group said.

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