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Financial Inclusion in the Digital Age

Billions of adults across the globe lack access to the financial services they need to achieve even modest levels of financial well-being. Many households and small businesses in emerging markets have no or very limited access to formal financial services. Even in developed countries, they only have access to a limited menu of cost-effective products from financial institutions for addressing their financial needs. Over two billion unbanked adults in the world, representing 38 percent of all adults globally, lack access to basic financial services and another 57 percent have basic accounts but do not have access to diversified investment and savings options, low-cost payments systems, core household and business insurance, or credit.

The resulting poor financial wellness—indeed, for many households and small businesses, the resulting financial insecurity—is not is not just a low-income bottom-of-the-pyramid problem in developing economies. It has been democratized with growing income inequalities in developed economies too, and now is an issue for nearly half the American population. Achieving financial inclusion and financial security is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. It is broadly recognized as critical to reducing poverty and achieving inclusive economic growth.

This report highlights some of the central frictions that prevent greater financial inclusion and financial well-being, and associated technological innovations that are fostering creative new  approaches to mitigating these frictions for individuals and small businesses globally. At the end of the report is a list of 100 Fintech companies globally that are supporting ‘Financial Inclusion in the Digital Age’ across four main verticals of impact: payments, lending and related ecosystem, savings and financial planning, and insurance. These 100 companies are mission-driven but are also focused on providing attractive risk-adjusted returns to their investors.

IFC
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector in developing countries. The Bank Group has set two goals for the world to achieve by 2030: end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity in every country.

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