The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital financial inclusion with increased digital financial services. According to the 2021 Global Findex Database, global account ownership has increased from 51% of the world’s population in 2011 to 76% in 2021. Notwithstanding the gains, about 25% are still outside the formal financial system.
More robust digital infrastructure that include internet connectivity and digital identification could encourage digital financial transactions. Information and educational initiatives by public institutions and private firms are critical to the promotion and sustainability of robust digital financial services. Essentially, further progress in digital financial inclusion would require concerted actions from the various stakeholders—regulators, financial institutions, fintech firms and consumer groups—to reinforce the fundamentals. They could also improve existing policies and measures with adjustments that take into account the latest innovations in the digital finance sphere. Indeed, digital financial inclusion is an ongoing, collaborative and evolving undertaking.
This report was authored by APEC, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation with valuable contributions and inputs from many institutions, in particular the SME Finance Forum.