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India fuelling global growth in access to banking: WB

21 April, 2018, 05:30 | Author: Heidi Alvarez
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It said at 80 per cent coverage, it was comparable to the number of adults in China who have an account.

The report also notes the reduced gender gap in ownership by 6 per cent compared to 2014, with 83 per cent men and 77 per cent women now having an account.

The report acknowledges impact of government policy in reducing gaps in bank account ownership between rich and poor to 5 percent in 2017, down from 15 percent in 2014, he added.

The number of people around the world with bank accounts has increased by 7 percent from 2014 to 2017, reaching 69 percent of all adults, driven by the proliferation of cell phones and biometrics, according to new research from the World Bank.

The share of account owners with an inactive account varies across economies, but it is especially high in many South-Asian economies, but India has the highest percentage of such accounts, it said.

Almost 19 crore Indian adults do not have bank accounts, making the country the second-largest in terms of unbanked population, according to a PTI report quoting World Bank data.

The problem that India faces most in providing financial services to all is penetration, there are certain areas where banking operations are still low, leaving a large pool of people without accounts. Specifically, paying government wages, pensions, and social benefits directly into accounts could bring formal financial services to up to 100 million more adults globally, including 95 million in developing economies.

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Among men and among adults in the wealthiest 60% of households, it increased by about 20 percentage points, the report said.

Digital technology could take advantage of existing cash transactions to bring people into the financial system, the report finds.

Says Melinda Gates: We already know a lot about how to make sure women have equal access to financial services that can change their lives. "When the government deposits social welfare payments or other subsidies directly into women's digital bank accounts, the impact is unbelievable". Globally, roughly 230 million unbanked adults work for businesses and get paid in cash - and 78% of these people own a mobile phone. "Women gain decision-making power in their homes, and with more financial tools at their disposal they invest in their families' prosperity and help drive broad economic growth".

According to the latest Global Findex Database released by the World Bank on the sidelines of the annual Spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, 11 per cent of the worlds unbanked adults are in India.

There has been a significant increase in the use of mobile phones and the internet to conduct financial transactions. The database has been published every three years since 2011. Expanding the use of digital payments could dramatically improve efficiency for both utility providers and their customers.

Global Findex data are used to track progress toward the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the World Bank's goal of Universal Financial Access by 2020.

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