Overview of Financial Inclusion, Regulation, and Education
Over half the world’s unbanked adults live in Asia. How can they get more access to finance? Governments in emerging Asian economies need to take a practical and holistic approach.
Financial inclusion is receiving increasing attention as having the potential to contribute to economic and financial development while at the same time fostering more inclusive growth and greater income equality. However, although substantial progress has been made, there is still much to achieve. East Asia and the Pacific and South Asia combined account for 55% of the world’s unbanked adults, mainly in India and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
This paper surveys the experience of a number of advanced and Asian emerging economies to assess factors affecting the ability of low-income households and small firms to access financial services, including financial literacy, financial education programs and financial regulatory frameworks, and identify policies that can improve their financial access while maintaining financial stability. It aims to identify successful experiences and important lessons that can be adopted by other emerging economies. This analysis is based on studies of the experiences of Germany, the United Kingdom, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The study aims to take a practical and holistic approach to issues related to financial inclusion. For example, innovative methods of promoting financial access, such as mobile phone banking and micro-finance, require corresponding innovations in regulatory frameworks, perimeters and capacity. Moreover, programs in the areas of financial education and consumer protection are needed to enable households and small firms to take full advantage of improvements in financial access.