Financial Inclusion: A Global Overview

Farmers crossing Baobab Avenue to the field in the early morning, Madagascar.
Farmers crossing Baobab Avenue to the field in the early morning, Madagascar. Photo by Hoang Long Ly, 2018 CGAP Photo Contest

The 2021 edition of Global Findex, the World Bank’s global database that tracks financial inclusion, shows significant progress in financial inclusion over the last 10 years. Today, 76 percent of the world’s adult population has access to an account with a financial institution or mobile money provider, up from 51 percent in 2011. Developing economies have seen remarkable progress, with 71 percent of the adult population having an account, a 30-percentage-point increase over the last decade.  

The widespread adoption of digital financial services during COVID-19 played a significant role in the progress of financial inclusion. According to the Global Findex 2021, nearly two-thirds of adults made or received digital payments - including government transfers, remittances and bill payments - in the past year, up 20 percentage points since 2014.  The global COVID-19 pandemic also led to an increase in digital merchant transactions in developing economies, rising to 37 percent of adults who made digital payments to retail businesses. Nearly one in four of these adults did so for the first time during the pandemic.  

Gender gap in financial inclusion

Another positive trend in financial inclusion is the narrowing of the gender gap in account ownership, which now stands at 4 percentage points globally, down from 7 percentage points in 2017: 78 percent of the world's adult men have an account compared to 74 percent of adult women. In developing economies, the gender gap decreased from 9 percentage points, where it stood for many years, to 6 percentage points. 

However, despite the overall progress, the gender gap remains high in some regions. In Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa, the difference in account ownership between adult women and men stands at at least 12 percentage points, double the average of developing economies. The gender gap also varies significantly across countries within the same region. For example, in Mozambique and Nigeria, the gender gap is 22 and 20 percentage points, respectively, while in Uganda, the gender gap is only 2 percentage points.  

Financial resilience

Financial resilience is essential for overcoming unexpected financial setbacks, such as sudden job loss or unforeseen expenses. Although various factors, such as government policies, social safety nets and cultural norms, influence financial resilience, access to formal financial services can contribute. However, many individuals, particularly those living in poverty, women and those with lower levels of education, have limited access to formal financial services, making them vulnerable during financial emergencies.

The Global Findex 2021 report highlights that formal savings are the most reliable source of emergency funds. Nevertheless, 30 percent of adults in developing economies rely on informal sources, such as friends and family, for emergency funds. The report also indicates that women are more likely than men to face difficulties accessing emergency funds. 50 percent of women in developing economies reported that they could obtain emergency funds within 30 days without any difficulty, compared to 59 percent of men. Furthermore, among those who rely on family as their primary source of emergency money, 50 percent of women found it very difficult to obtain emergency funds, compared to 44 percent of men.



Key Financial Inclusion Data

    Globally, 1.4 billion adults remain excluded from the formal financial sector

    Percent of adults age 15+ with an account at a financial institution or through a mobile money provider
    Source: Global Findex Database

    The gender gap in account ownership has narrowed, but remains high in many countries

    Percent of adults age 15+ with an account. Regional data excludes high-income economies
    Source: Global Findex Database

    The global pandemic drove a surge in digital payments

    Percent of adults age 15+
    Source: Global Findex Database

    Knowledge Resources by Country or Economy

    FinDev Gateway provides the latest publications, news, events and jobs related to financial inclusion in nearly all countries worldwide. Explore the knowledge resources we have available on the following countries and regions.

    East Asia and Pacific

    Financial inclusion in East Asia and the Pacific region is well below the world average. According to the latest edition of the Global Findex which provides data for 2021, only 59 percent of adults in the region have an account. This figure excludes China, where account ownership is much higher, at 89 percent. Notably, there is a significant variance within the region, with account ownership ranging from only 33 and 37 percent of the adult population in Cambodia and Laos, respectively, to 96 percent in Thailand. Learn more >

    Australia Lao PDR Solomon Islands
    Cambodia Malaysia Thailand
    China Mongolia Tonga
    East Timor Myanmar Vanuatu
    Fiji Papua New Guinea Vietnam
    Indonesia Philippines  
    Japan Samoa  


    Europe and Central Asia

    In Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA), the progress towards financial inclusion has been impressive, with a surge in the number of adults with bank accounts. According to the latest edition of the Global Findex which provides data for 2021, the share of adults with a bank account in the region, excluding high-income economies, increased from 65 percent in 2017 to 78 percent in 2021, which is higher than the developing economy average of 71 percent. In addition, ECA has the lowest percentage of inactive accounts among developing economies, standing at only 3 percent compared to the 13 percent developing economy average. Learn more >

    Albania Ireland Russia
    Armenia Italy Serbia
    Azerbaijan Kazakhstan Spain
    Belarus Kosovo Sweden
    Belgium Kyrgyz Republic Switzerland
    Bosnia and Herzegovina Luxembourg Tajikistan
    Bulgaria Moldova Türkiye
    Croatia Montenegro Turkmenistan
    Czechia Netherlands Ukraine
    France North Macedonia United Kingdom
    Georgia Norway Uzbekistan
    Germany Poland  
    Hungary Romania  


    Latin America and the Caribbean

    Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is making significant strides towards financial inclusion, according to the latest edition of the Global Findex from 2021. The World Bank database, which tracks financial inclusion worldwide, reveals that 73 percent of adults in the region, excluding high-income economies, now have access to an account with a financial institution or mobile money provider, marking an impressive increase of 18.5 percentage points since 2017. This jump in account ownership is the largest of any developing region and places overall account ownership in LAC slightly above the developing economy average of 71 percent. Learn more >

    Argentina Dominican Republic Mexico
    Barbados Ecuador Nicaragua
    Belize El Salvador Panama
    Bolivia Guatemala Paraguay
    Brazil Guyana Peru
    Chile Haiti Suriname
    Colombia Honduras Uruguay
    Costa Rica Jamaica Venezuela


    Middle East and North Africa

    The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is the region with the lowest proportion of adults with a financial account in the world. In fact, only 48 percent of adults in the region, excluding high-income economies, have an account, 23 percentage points lower than the developing economy average. Being unemployed makes it even less likely for an adult to have an account. Only 39 percent of adults who are not active in the labor force in MENA have an account, the lowest percentage of all world regions. Learn more >

    Algeria Israel Syria
    Djibouti Jordan Tunisia
    Egypt Lebanon West Bank and Gaza
    Iran Libya Yemen
    Iraq Morocco  


    North America

    For the purposes of regional data analysis, the World Bank classification of North America includes only two countries: United States and Canada. According to the 2021 edition of the Global Findex – the World Bank’s global database that tracks financial inclusion – North America has the highest percentage of people who own an account. Specifically, 99.6 of the adult population in Canada and 95 percent in the United States own an account with a financial institution or mobile money provider. Learn more>

    Canada United States


    South Asia

    South Asia, home to a population of over 1.9 billion, is grappling with financial exclusion. According to the Global Findex 2021 database, the region's financial inclusion rate is 68 percent, which falls below the average of 71 percent of developing economies. The share of adults with accounts has remained largely unchanged since 2017. However, the rising presence of mobile phones offers a unique opportunity to boost account ownership through mobile payments. According to the Global Findex, over half of the 430 million adults without accounts in the region own a mobile phone. Learn more >

    Afghanistan Maldives Pakistan
    Bangladesh Nepal Sri Lanka
    Bhutan India      


    Sub-Saharan Africa

    Sub-Saharan Africa continues to lead the world in mobile money adoption, which is driving financial inclusion in the region. The latest data from the Global Findex 2021 shows that 33 percent of adults in the region have a mobile money account, compared to just 10 percent globally. However, the region remains behind in terms of overall account access. Only 55 percent of adults own an account with a financial institution or mobile money provider, compared to the 71 percent average for developing economies. Learn more >

    Angola Gabon Nigeria
    Benin Ghana Rwanda
    Botswana Guinea Senegal
    Burkina Faso Kenya Sierra Leone
    Burundi Lesotho Somalia
    Cape Verde Liberia South Africa
    Cameroon Madagascar South Sudan
    Central African Republic Malawi Sudan
    Chad Mali Tanzania
    DRC Mauritania The Gambia
    Congo, Republic of Mauritius Togo
    Côte d'Ivoire Mozambique Uganda
    Eritrea Namibia Zambia
    Ethiopia Niger Zimbabwe

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