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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