Financial Services for the Poor

SDG target: Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance, and financial services for all.

We do not have 2020 numbers for this indicator, but we expect they will show rising bank-account ownership. Faced with the urgent need to get cash to people quickly while helping them maintain social distance, more than 130 governments have created or improved digital cash transfer programs. Many are also updating policies and regulations to make mobile transactions easier for people, especially the poor. Countries (like India) that already had well-established digital infrastructure, including payment and identification systems, before the pandemic were able to respond especially effectively.

Now the priority is to ensure that these reforms help address the immediate crisis while laying a solid foundation for sustainable digital financial inclusion that both helps the most vulnerable people escape poverty and boosts economic growth. This means designing financial tools and systems to serve the needs of low-income customers who may not have smartphones or easy access to technology and tend to transact in tiny amounts. Services geared toward the specific needs of women can increase their financial inclusion and help lead to their economic empowerment.

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