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Ownership and Use of Accounts in Africa

Dec 15, 2012
What are the key take away messages in the data?
First, that despite the recent financial sector growth in Africa over the past decades, many individuals and firms are still excluded from access to financial services in African countries. The gap in financial inclusion is largest among women, the poor, the less educated and those living in rural areas. Second, that cost, distance, and documentation requirements are important reported obstacles to the use of formal accounts.
Removing physical, bureaucratic, and financial barriers to expand financial inclusion is challenging since this also requires addressing the underlying structural causes such as low income levels and weak governance.
Nevertheless, measures to improve contestability of financial systems and underlying information and regulatory environment are also likely to speed up the introduction and adoption of new products, processes, and technology that may help further lessen these barriers, especially in Africa. The most evident example is the recent success of mobile money in East Africa which shows that innovations can bring about dramatic changes in how people engage in financial transactions by lowering entry barriers, reducing costs, and expanding access. Third, data is powerful! We now know a lot more than we used to about the financial behaviors of adults worldwide. To that end, we’ve just released the complete Global Findex micro dataset through the World Bank’s Open Data website. This means easy access to over 150,000 individual-level observations, representing adults in 148 economies and 97 percent of the world’s adult population. Users can download the complete worldwide dataset, or datasets by country. For more information, please refer to the Financial Inclusion Data or the Global Findex web pages.
Lora Klapper is a Lead Economist in the Finance and Private Sector Research Team of the Development Research Group at the World Bank. Since joining the Bank as a Young Economist in 1998, she has published articles on entrepreneurship, access to finance, corporate governance, and risk management. Her current research focuses on household finance and measurements of financial inclusion.
Prior to coming to the Bank she worked at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Bank of Israel, and Salomon Smith Barney. She holds a Ph.D. in financial economics from New York University Stern School of Business.

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