Financial Inclusion in the 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.
In addition, adults who are not active in the labor force in MENA are approximately 16 percentage points less likely to have an account. The Global Findex 2021 revealed that 70 percent of people without an account are not active in the labor force.
Digital payments are not yet widely adopted in the region compared to other developing economies. Only 40 percent of adults reported having made or received a digital payment in the last year, compared to the developing economy average of 57 percent.
Gender gap in financial inclusion
Although the gender gap in account ownership has narrowed from 17 percentage points in 2017 to just under 13 percentage points, the challenge remains significant. Only 42 percent of women living in developing economies in the region have a financial account compared to 54 percent of men, the highest gender gap across all regions and twice the average for developing economies.
In terms of financial resilience, only 21 percent of adults in MENA, excluding high-income economies, can access emergency funding with no difficulty at all, compared to the developing economy average of 27 percent. Financial resilience is essential for dealing with emergencies such as job loss or unexpected expenses. Although various factors, such as government policies, social safety nets and cultural norms, influence financial resilience, access to formal financial services, especially formal savings, can contribute to it. However, only 35 percent of adults in the region have reported saving in the past year, compared to the developing economy average of 42 percent. Notably, about half of the adults in MENA rely on friends and family for emergency funding, highlighting the reliance on informal financial systems.
Key Financial Inclusion Data
East Asia & Pacific | Europe & Central Asia | Latin America and the Caribbean | North America | South Asia | Sub-Saharan Africa | Global
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