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World Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Initiate

Global Financial Inclusion Indicators Project

 November 2010,  Asli Demirgüç-Kunt and Leora Klapper (DECFP)

Through an $11 million, 10-year grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Development Research Group will build a new public database of “Global Financial Inclusion Indicators,” to better understand how the world’s poor, women and other disadvantaged groups save, borrow and make payments.  The goal of the project is to reliably measure financial inclusion in a consistent manner over a broad range of countries and over time, and create a public dataset that can be used to track global policy and progress to improve access to financial services.  The grant provides funding for three rounds of data collection, and the World Bank has signed a contract with Gallup, Inc., to interview at least 1,000 people per country in 150 countries about their finances through the Gallup World Poll.

Recent progress has been made on collecting supply-side information on financial access from regulators and other country surveys.  For example, according to the Development Research Group, Policy Research Report “Finance for All?,” less than half of the population in most developing countries has an account at a financial institution (including less than one in five households in sub-Saharan Africa owning an account), though nearly everyone has a financial account in some of the richest countries.  The 2010 Report on Financial Access by CGAP estimates that about half of the households in the world have no access to a bank account.

Yet policy makers and researchers need comparable, systemic survey data on financial access by individuals and households, but data are costly and time consuming to collect and analyze. This new public database will fill this information gap, by documenting financial access across gender, age, geographic regions, national income levels and other indicators. The World Bank will add to the Gallup World Poll a broad set of questions on the use of savings, credit, insurance and payment services, targeting especially disadvantaged groups such as women, youth and the poor. For example, do they have a bank account? What is the distance to the nearest bank branch? Do they borrow money from an informal money lender? Do they buy life or health insurance?

The full survey is expected to be rolled out in January 2011 and the dataset will be made available to the public in October 2012.  As part of the partnership with Gallup, in addition to the financial inclusion indicators, certain segments of the Gallup World Poll results will be publicly accessible. 

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