H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA), provided this pre-recorded video address for the launch of the Global Findex Database 2021: Financial Inclusion, Digital Payments, and Resilience in the Age of COVID-19 on 29 June 2022. Click here to watch.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am thrilled to join you for the launch of the very much-anticipated new Global Findex report.
It has been five years since we last had a window into the state of global financial inclusion.
Today’s report gives us a fresh opportunity to take stock of what has been achieved and the work still ahead of us.
For many years, I have championed financial technology as a pathway to greater prosperity and financial health.
We now have more evidence that it is working.
The updated Findex shows that a technological revolution across the globe has fueled a sharp rise in the use of financial technology.
From India to Kenya, even the smallest merchants in rural markets are being paid and making payments with the mobile phones that they carry in their pockets.
We have also learned that millions of more women have a financial account.
When the Findex 2017 report came out, there was a 9% difference in the number of men and women accessing and using financial accounts. But this stubborn gender gap has finally begun to close.
In the last five years, the gap narrowed from nine to six percentage points in developing countries – and from seven to four percentage points globally.
Although women are still less likely than men to use digital payments, the good news is that when they do have an account, they are just as likely as men to use it.
Today’s report is being released at a time of great change and uncertainty.
Every year, people around the world face unexpected financial challenges. A job loss, illness, crop failure, or natural disaster can quickly derail hopes and aspirations for a better life.
The report’s new insights on financial worrying give us a more complete picture of people’s financial health.
It also shines a light on how people are becoming more resilient to these kinds of shocks.
In times of financial stress, people often turn to family and friends for help. But when everyone is under the same stress, such as during a pandemic or a drought, these social networks can be unreliable.
Financial inclusion offers more resilience. Research shows that when a woman gets an account, she builds savings, spends more on her children’s education, and invests in business opportunities.
The Findex data charts all this progress and more. But it also shows that we have reached a turning point.
Most people who can easily open a bank account have already done so. The next step is to ensure that they can access other products and services – like savings, credit and insurance – that truly meet their needs and improve their financial health.
But there is a steeper hill to climb. Almost 30% of adults in developing countries are still unbanked and much harder to reach.
Countries should make the right investments to reach those who remain left out. From more inclusive financial policies to connecting rural customers to the internet, government and the private sector can step up to meet this demand.
Digital technologies are changing people’s financial lives. Worldwide, people are using mobile phones and apps to pay bills, save money, and run their businesses. This makes it vital to protect financial consumers and help them build their digital and financial literacy skills.
Congratulations on the new edition of this milestone report. The data it provides will guide our efforts and help make the dream of universal access to finance a reality.
I also look forward to the future indicators on financial resilience that will provide us insights on individuals’ financial health. These will allow us to follow the effects of financial access on people’s lives. They will also help us to identify other financial services that people need to achieve their goals.