Underlying the global financial inclusion agenda is the assumption that providing access to and ownership of bank accounts will improve the lives of previously excluded adults and contribute to economic growth objectives.
This assumption is reinforced by global surveys such as the World Bank Global Financial Inclusion Index (Findex) and the country-level FinScope Consumer Survey, which monitor the progress of financial inclusion policies by tracking the number of ‘banked’ individuals. The headline indicators, such as the FinScope Access Strand, position bank account ownership as the priority area of inclusion, with other forms of financial inclusion secondary. However, the evidence from the first six MAP pilot countries shows that ownership of a bank account is not a sufficient measure for whether adults are using them and, in turn, benefiting from them.
Note 4 of the MAP Global Insight Series zeroes in on what it means to use a financial product – in this case, a bank account. The note scrutinises how bank accounts are being used, analyses why they are being used this way, and asks why banks accounts are not used more. The note also makes suggestions for why banks are not really responding. Furthermore, the note examines how the way in which bank accounts are being used by consumers in the MAP pilot countries for the most part ultimately leads to consumers being worse off financially. It then considers why policymakers, providers and donors should be very concerned about this situation, and suggests possible options under the circumstances.