The Global Financial Inclusion Index 2023 serves as a comprehensive measure of financial access and usage across 174 countries and territories. This index hinges on three critical dimensions: access, usage, and quality, reflected through 71 indicators. It offers insights into the world’s evolving financial landscape, where digital financial services are gaining prominence. In 2023, the global average score reached 63.4, indicating a modest improvement from the previous year. However, a substantial divide persists between developed and developing nations, underscoring the pressing need for broad-based financial inclusion efforts.
In developed countries, the Global Financial Inclusion Index demonstrates an average score of 78.6, while developing nations score an average of 58.1. This stark contrast highlights the persistent challenges faced by developing countries in facilitating financial inclusion for their citizens. While progress is being made globally, disparities continue to undermine the broader goal of universal financial inclusion.
Key Trends in Financial Inclusion
1. The Rise of Digital Financial Services
In 2023, the index reveals the growing influence of digital financial services. A staggering 71% of adults worldwide now own mobile phone accounts, and 45% hold mobile money provider accounts. Digital solutions like mobile banking and mobile money play an increasingly pivotal role in extending financial inclusion, ensuring accessibility and convenience.
2. The Growing Importance of Financial Education
Financial education emerges as a crucial component in empowering individuals to understand and effectively utilize financial services. In 2023, 58% of adults globally received some form of financial education. This emphasis on financial literacy is vital to bridging the knowledge gap and fostering responsible financial behavior.
3. Addressing Vulnerable Groups
Vulnerable groups, including women, the impoverished, and rural populations, continue to face disproportionate exclusion from financial services. In 2023, the global gender gap in financial inclusion stood at 5.1 percentage points, while the disparity between rural and urban areas reached 10.9 percentage points. Targeted efforts are needed to ensure that these marginalized groups have equal access to financial services, supporting their c growth and overall well-being.
The top 10 countries in the Global Financial Inclusion Index 2023 have highly developed financial systems, offering a diverse range of financial products and services to their citizens:
- Hong Kong
In contrast, the bottom 10 countries face significant challenges in providing access to financial services:
- Central African Republic
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- South Sudan
- The High Cost of Financial Services: In many regions, the cost of financial services remains prohibitively high for low-income individuals and businesses, hindering their access and utilization.
- The Lack of Financial Education: Insufficient financial knowledge can lead to financial problems such as over-indebtedness and fraud. Addressing this knowledge gap is essential.
- Exclusion of Vulnerable Groups: Vulnerable populations continue to be marginalized in financial systems, hampering their social and economic progress.
- The Rise of Digital Financial Services: Mobile banking and mobile money can reduce the cost of financial services and expand access in remote areas.
- The Growing Importance of Financial Education: Enhancing financial literacy can empower individuals to make informed financial decisions.
- Focus on Financial Inclusion Policy: Governments and policymakers are increasingly recognizing the importance of financial inclusion and are developing policies and programs to promote it.
While the Global Financial Inclusion Index 2023 demonstrates progress in financial inclusion, disparities persist between developed and developing countries, and vulnerable groups remain excluded. Addressing these disparities requires concerted efforts to reduce the cost of financial services, promote financial education, and focus on inclusive policies. Universal financial inclusion is not only a moral imperative but a vital driver of economic growth and social well-being on a global scale.