IMF Unveils Global Financial Access Survey

Sep 2014
Global, September, 21 2014 - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has unveiled the result of its 2014 Financial Access Survey (FAS), which is aimed at mapping the global financial inclusion strategy.

The survey, which is the fifth in the yearly series, has already been described as the most comprehensive global source of data on access to, and use of, basic consumer financial services by households and non-financial corporations and for the first time, includes data on mobile money indicators.  

According to IMF, the 2014 FAS was again conducted with financial support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands, while the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided funding to capture data on the use of mobile money services.

However, the report noted that among African countries that submitted data on commercial banks’ customer-base, depositors experienced a five-fold increase from 2004 to 2013, while simultaneously achieving a 40 per cent growth in real GDP per capita. 

“Financial inclusion has gained prominence in the global discussion on growth and poverty reduction. We welcome the opportunity to be a global leader in providing much-needed data on an increasingly critical theme,” the Director of IMF Statistics Department, Louis Marc Ducharme, said.

The 2014 round had a response rate of over 95 percent, with 184 reporting jurisdictions, with the overall coverage of the survey indicators increasing further relative to the previous round, while about 35 countries reported data on mobile money.

The FAS database contained 152 time series resulting in 47 key indicators that are grouped into two dimensions- geographic outreach of financial services; and use of financial services, with the database including yearly figures and metadata for 189 jurisdictions, including all the Group of 20 economies, covering a 10-year period (2004–2013).

FAS provides geographic and demographic data worldwide, offering a strong quantitative underpinning to the theoretical literature linking financial inclusion and economic growth. 

According to the report, the positive correlation between the increase in the use of commercial banks services (a measure of financial inclusion) and the increase in Gross Domestic Product per capita (a measure of economic growth) is especially noteworthy when comparing financial inclusion trends, particularly in Africa.

The newly-expanded FAS is also capturing indicators on access to and use of mobile money services. Over the past decade, the emergence of ‘mobile money’–the practice of sending, receiving, and storing money using mobile phones–has improved the lives of  populations that generally do not use commercial banks, even when access to more conventional banking models remained difficult.

The enhanced 2014 FAS provides a quantitative foundation to assess the transformational role of mobile money in financial inclusion. For example, the results of the 2014 FAS round for Kenya show a dramatic increase in the number of active mobile money accounts in recent years. 

In 2007, mobile money accounts represented just 30 percent of deposit accounts in commercial banks, but by 2009, they  surpassed the number of commercial bank deposit accounts.                                                     

At the same time, the number of mobile money transactions increased by more than 130 times, from close to 5.5 million in 2007 to more than 700 million in 2013.

Source : Guardian News

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