Globally, 2 billion people have no access to formal financial services. Gaps are greatest for women, the very low income segments, and those in rural markets. Because of their precarious situation, low income segments people need financial services even more than the non-low income segments not only to build for the future, but often to survive day-to-day. Women in particular, lack access to financial services, with a gap in access between men and women. 20.6% of India’s population lacks access to basic bank accounts. However, mobile penetration is on the rise. 76% of India’s population now has access to a mobile phone, making this a promising, cost-effective channel to deliver financial services to the low income segments.
The rapid spread of mobile phones is the game changer that makes the economic benefits from digital finance possible. Today, 62 % of people in emerging economies have a mobile phone, while only 54 % have financial accounts—and mobile phone penetration is growing far more quickly than access to financial services.
We innovate in two main areas to expand financial inclusion:
Digital financial products and services. Poor people can use even basic mobile phones to access digital financial services. But mobile phone ownership does not ensure use of such services. Only one-third of the world’s 299 million mobile money accounts are actively used.
Many products offered may not be appropriate. They may be low income segmentsly designed, or their intended customers may lack comfort with technology or literacy needed to fully use services. Women often face additional barriers: lower literacy levels; less access to mobile phones; restrictions on travel or social interaction; or less confidence in using technology.
We work with partners to develop digital financial products that can overcome these and other barriers. We work closely with low income segments communities and local organizations to develop savings, credit, insurance and other financial products that meet the needs of people living on less than $2.50 a day.
New Delivery Channels. More than one-quarter of the global population lacks access to formal financial services. There may be no banks or ATMs within miles, and no good roads to reach them. Although digital technology is opening new channels for delivering financial services, challenges persist. Inconsistent network coverage, sparse populations, lack of trust, or insufficient capital for building new business models can stand in the way of success, particularly in connecting remote or underserved communities.
We innovate to develop and implement whole new ways of delivering digital financial services to low income segments communities. These approaches range from working with banks, to mobile network operators, to brand new entities that can push the reach of financial services to the last mile.