According to World Bank statistics, 1.7 billion adults globally did not have access to a basic bank account in 2017. China and India had the largest unbanked populations in absolute terms - 224 and 191 million adults respectively. World Bank data also shows that the top ten countries with the highest share of adults without a bank account were South Sudan (91%); Central African Republic (86%); Afghanistan (85%); Niger (84%); Madagascar (82%); Sierra Leone (80%); Mauritania (79%); Pakistan (79%); Cambodia (78%) and Chad (78%).
The World needs a more financially inclusive society - financial products and services should be made available and affordable to all, which in turn will improve the lives of the people. The ever increasing use of FinTech has aided the cause of financial inclusion in recent years. For example, cashless digital transactions, robo-advisors, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer / social lending, microlending are some of the initiatives aimed at making the unbanked population financially inclusive.
However, in the past, there have been various attempts to make daily financial services available to unbanked population at a reasonable cost in different parts of the world. Probably, the most successful attempts have been in East Africa and South Asia. In these regions, Mobile money is helping to improve financial inclusion. M-Pesa in Kenya and bKash in Bangladesh are mobile money success stories which are transforming lives.
In my next post, I will talk about how bKash is transforming access to financial services for the poor in Bangladesh. According to Fortune magazine, 22% of adults in Bangladeshi used bKash with 4.5 million daily transactions in 2017.