Financial Inclusion in 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.
The gender gap in financial inclusion
Despite recent progress, South Asia still struggles with achieving gender equality in financial inclusion. While the gender gap in account ownership is the same as the world average at four percentage points, a significant gender disparity persists in digital payments. Even in India and Sri Lanka, the two countries with the highest rates of account ownership in the region and no financial inclusion gender gap, there remains a sizable 17 and 12 percentage point gender gap in digital payments.
Financial resilience is crucial for withstanding unexpected financial shocks, such as sudden job loss or unforeseen expenses. However, in South Asia, only 8 percent of the adult population reported being able to access emergency funds within 30 days without any difficulty. This percentage is significantly lower than the developing economy average of 27 percent.
Furthermore, while savings are considered the most reliable source of emergency funds, only 23 percent of adults in South Asia reported saving in the last year. This figure is significantly lower than the developing economy average of 42 percent. Addressing these issues is crucial in achieving financial resilience and promoting financial inclusion in the region.
Key Financial Inclusion Data
- 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.
- Country Brief — India, 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.
Digital Financial Literacy via E-commerce: Implications for Bangladesh, Especially for Women in Business
This paper explores and evaluates the best ways to reach the less digitally and financially literate segments of the community in Bangladesh, especially women, to ensure that ultimately no one is left behind.
This slide deck documents MSC's journey of evaluating key government-to-person (G2P) programs across Asia and Africa to understand how G2P payments impact women.