Financial Inclusion in 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.
The adoption of digital financial transactions in the region is also slightly above the average for developing economies, with 40 percent of adults reporting to have made digital merchant payments in the past year. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital payments, with 34 percent of those who made a digital merchant payment, saying they did so for the first time after the onset of the pandemic.
Gender gap in financial inclusion
Despite these advances in overall access to financial services, gender disparities persist in the region. Women are still less likely to have access to formal accounts, credit and savings products, with a 7-percentage-point gap in account ownership between men and women, higher than the average in developing economies which stands at 6 percentage points.
Financial resilience is important for people to be able to recover from unexpected financial shocks and unforeseen expenses. While many factors affect financial resilience, access to formal financial services, particularly formal savings, can contribute. Compared to other regions, LAC has the lowest share of adults who say they are able to access emergency funding reliably, with only 16 percent of adults able to access funds within 30 days without any difficulty, compared to the 27 percent average in developing economies.
Moreover, the gender disparity in financial resilience is the highest in any region, highlighting the need for continued efforts to address the gender gap in financial inclusion. Women face more significant obstacles when it comes to accessing emergency money, with only 10 percent stating they could do so with no difficulty, compared to 22 percent of men. Nonetheless, the recent surge in account ownership and digital transactions demonstrates progress, and with sustained efforts, LAC can continue to advance toward greater financial inclusion and resilience.
Key Financial Inclusion Data
Knowledge Resources by Country
Explore the knowledge resources we have available on the following countries in Latin America and the Caribbean:
East Asia & Pacific | Europe & Central Asia | Middle East & North Africa | North America | South Asia | Sub-Saharan Africa | Global
- A Guide to Global Findex 2021: What You Need to Know, Blog, FinDev Gateway 2022
- Global Findex: Digitalization in COVID-19 Boosted Financial Inclusion , Blog, CGAP 2022
- The Global 2021 Findex Database: Financial Inclusion, Digital Payments, and Resilience in the Age of COVID-19, Report, World Bank 2022. Download Overview: English | عربي | Español | Français
- The Little Data Book on Financial Inclusion 2022, Booklet, World Bank 2022.
- Women and Financial Inclusion, Gender Brief, World Bank 2022.
- Database and Visualization Dashboard, World Bank 2022.
- Unveiling the Global Findex Database 2021 in Five Charts, World Bank 2022 (Also available in: العربية | Español | Français).
- Launch of the 2021 Global Findex Microdata, Blog, World Bank 2022.
- Financial Inclusion and Digital Payments, Video, World Bank 2022.
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