Mobile money outlet in Uganda. Mobile banking is how most Ugandans send, receive and bank money. By Ndiwulira (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
YES! topic 2018
Promoting Financial Inclusion: New Policies and Technological Innovations through Digital Finance
by Helke Seitz and Tim Kaiser, researchers at DIW Berlin – German Institute for Economic Research
Selected by Berlin International School Team II
Financial inclusion means that individuals and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services. Lack of financial inclusion exists around the world, although it is more pronounced in poorer countries. A functioning financial system accessible to the entire national economy and all its groups is an essential precondition for economic development. Hence, a lack of financial inclusion is not only a social issue; it is also an economic one.
Financial inclusion means something different at each stage of an economy’s development. While in developing countries, the access to financial services can be seen as a crucial criterion, the appropriate use of financial services is a somewhat more appropriate criterion in advanced economies.
A significant share of people in developing countries does not have access to financial services. The most basic indicator for financial inclusion has a bank account. Barriers are for example that financial services are not yet affordable, distance from a financial service provider, lack of necessary documentation papers, lack of trust in financial service providers. Within developing countries are groups who more than others lack access to financial services such as women (compared to men) or microbusinesses/own-account worker (compared to large companies).
In advanced economies, most people have access to financial services; their appropriate use is a much more important consideration than it is in developing countries.
How can access to financial services (financial inclusion) be increased (in advanced economies, Germany, developing countries)? Which institution(s) should be part of that process? Which factors determine financial inclusion? What is the impact of financial education or financial infrastructure? How can digital innovation (mobile money) influence financial inclusion?