IMF Releases the 2017 Financial Access Survey, Tracking Access to Financial Services
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) released the results of the eighth annual Financial Access Survey (FAS). The FAS collects annual data on indicators tracking financial access—an important pillar of financial inclusion. It provides insights on the availability and use of financial products such as consumer and firm deposit accounts, loans, and insurance policies across the globe. The information is based on administrative data collected from both traditional (e.g., commercial banks or other deposit-taking institutions) and digital (e.g., mobile money) financial service providers.
FAS data show progress in two indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals: the number of bank branches and automated teller machines (ATMs), with most of the growth concentrated in Asia. However, some other regions still lag in these financial access dimensions. This is particularly the case in Sub-Saharan Africa, where there are on average five times fewer bank branches and ATMs per adult than in the rest of the world. FAS data also show that innovations in financial access, such as mobile money services, keep making inroads. In Afghanistan, for instance, there are now more than six times as many mobile money agents as ATMs, facilitating direct deposit of payroll for civil servants through their mobile phones.