Global eID Ecosystems — Restoring Dignity Through Identity®

The scale of exclusion around the world

Globally, 69% of adults — 3.8 billion people — have an account at a bank or mobile money provider. Between 2014 and 2017, 515 million adults worldwide opened an account at a financial institution or through a mobile money provider.

In high-income economies 94% of adults have an account; in developing economies, 63% do. The World Bank breaks down the level of account ownership by regions:

  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, the share of adults with a mobile money account is at 21%.

  • In East Asia and the Pacific, 71% of adults have an account.

  • In Europe and Central Asia, account ownership reached 65% in 2017.

  • In the Middle East and North Africa, 52% of men but only 35% of women have an account, the largest gender gap of any region.

  • In South Asia, the share of adults with an account reached 70%.

However, with all the progress, 1.7 billion adults globally remain unbanked.

Why do 1.7 billion people globally remain unbanked?

56% of all unbanked adults are women.

Poorer people also account for a disproportionate share of the unbanked. Globally, half of the unbanked adults come from the poorest 40% of households within their economy, the other half from the wealthiest 60%.

But the pattern varies among economies. In those where half or more of adults are unbanked, the unbanked are as likely to come from a poorer household as from a wealthier one. In economies where only about 20–30% of adults are unbanked, however, the unbanked are much more likely to be poor.

Unbanked adults are more likely to have low educational attainment, the World Bank suggests. In the developing world, about half of all adults have primary education or less. Among unbanked adults, the share is close to two-thirds. Slightly more than a third of the unbanked have completed high school or postsecondary education.

To shed light on why people are unbanked, the 2017 Global Findex survey asked adults without a financial institution account why they do not have one. Most offered reasons included:

  • The most common one was having too little money to use an account. Two-thirds cited this as a reason for not having a financial institution account, and roughly a fifth cited it as the sole reason.

  • Cost and distance were each mentioned by about a quarter of those responding to the question.

  • A similar to the previous reason share said they do not have an account because a family member already has one.

  • Lack of documentation and distrust in the financial system were both cited by roughly a fifth of adults without a financial institution account.

  • 6% cited religious concerns.

The number of unbanked will likely remain in billions also because more than 1.1 billion people in the world are simply unable to prove their identity(other estimates put the number at 1.5 billion), and therefore lack access to vital services including healthcare, social protection, education, and finance.

Moreover, UNHCR reported that 65.6 million people around the world had been forced from t ...

To continue reading, sign up for MEDICI Inner Circle and get free access for 7 days.
100,000+ FinTech professionals trust MEDICI Inner Circle to stay up to date on the latest in financial services.