Perspectives

Why Open Banking is Key to Increasing Financial Inclusion

Open Banking Series

Virtusa xLabs
Article

In the last 25 years, globalization has lifted one billion people out of poverty. World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim is now able to seriously and credibly suggest that we may be capable of ending global poverty by 2030 [1].

Around the world, many working people do not have the bank accounts and other financial services they need to connect them to markets and to each other.

In Asia, up to 73% of adults do not have a bank account [2]. In Africa, that figure is around 80% [3]. Even in US, the Center for Financial Inclusion estimates there are 68 million financially underserved adults [4].

This kind of financial exclusion is more than just an inconvenience. It stops its victims from buying the things they need at the best prices, it limits their participation in all but the most local of labor markets and it makes it difficult for them to sell their goods and services for the best price.

In the past, tackling financial exclusion was hard. Countries had to find a way to build more bank  branches in new locations. This was a slow and expensive process. But that is changing. The advent of Open Banking has made it easier than ever to end the financial exclusion of millions of people worldwide.

Why connectivity changes everything

According to the World Bank, between 2014 and 2018 the number of people in Sub-Saharan Africa with a mobile money account doubled, to 21% [5]. In Latin America, the number of people making digital transactions also sits at around 20%. In Asia, it’s an astonishing 71% [5].

In Asia, 51% of mobile phones in circulation are Internet-enabled smartphones [6]. By 2021, that figure will be 62%. Globally, smartphone penetration is expected to reach 40% by 2021 [7].

Around the world, millions of people who don’t yet have bank accounts do have internet-enabled mobile phones. And many of them already use mobile-money accounts to transfer cash or make small payments, so they are already comfortable with using digital financial services.

Open Banking is the logical next step


By freeing the expansion of financial provision from the need to build physical infrastructure financial service providers are instantly better able to offer a broader range of financial services at a lower cost.

In India, for instance, the fintech Teknospire — which specializes in financial inclusion — is helping banks develop accessible banking and payment products for customers on low incomes [8].  In Brazil, digital-only affordable bank accounts have massively boosted financial inclusion, with one bank signing up 70,000 new customers in just nine months [9].

In Kenya, familiarity with simple mobile-money accounts is driving the uptake of more sophisticated digital financial products, with 46% of Kenyans now using some form of financial service (with 43% using a digital financial product) [10].

As Open Banking makes an ever-wider range of financial services open to a wider and wider audience at a lower cost, it will help reduce financial inclusion, increase commerce and broaden people’s range of economic opportunities. This is something to be celebrated.

Download our new white paper, Open Banking: The New Customer Frontier to learn more about how Open Banking will revolutionize the banking and financial services industry.

Find out about Virtusa’s role in improving financial inclusion.


References:

  1. Decline of Global Extreme Poverty Continues but Has Slowed: World Bank, 19 September 2018, The World Bank.
  2. Financial inclusion for Asia’s unbanked, 30 April 2018. Manu Bhardwaj, Yuwa Hedrick-Wong and Howard Thomas, The World Bank.
  3. The 2017 Global Findex: A Fresh Look at Reaching the Unbanked, Scott Graham, 26 April 2018, Finca.
  4. Financial Inclusion in the U.S. – Are We Making Progress?, Rachel Morpeth, 18 April 2018, The Center for Financial Inclusion.
  5. Financial Inclusion on the Rise, But Gaps Remain, Global Findex Database Shows, 19 April 2018, The World Bank.
  6. Internet and Mobile Users in Asia-Pacific: eMarketer’s Country-by-Country Forecast for 2017–2021, 1 November 2017, eMarketer.
  7. Smartphone user penetration as percentage of total global population from 2014 to 2021, Statista.
  8. Open Banking Initiatives in Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong and India. 4 July 2018, Samisksha Seth, Teknospire.
  9. Brazil boosts financial inclusion with digital-only bank accounts, 7 June 2017, Apolitical.
  10. In Kenya, Financial Inclusion Shifts from Access to Advanced Use, 8 February 2018, Center For Financial Inclusion.

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