700 million leave ranks of the ‘unbanked’

New mobile payment platforms have contributed to a surge in bank account holders in the developing world with more than 700 million people leaving the ranks of the “unbanked” in the past three years, according to a World Bank survey.

Anne MacRae, Head of Financial Services, Fujitsu, emphasised the importance of the progress that is being made in the sector and how digital uptake needs to be continued. “The digital enabled hyperconnected world is powering an industrial revolution in developing countries turning people into consumers and consumers into entrepreneurs. Banks have stepped up to their role in this social change by delivering mobile application enabled banking services, which support new business models and creating new consumers through access to this digital ecosystem,” she commented.

The 140-country survey of 150,000 adults conducted in 2014 and released in April also highlighted the huge challenges that remain in meeting a goal of getting universal access to financial services by 2020.

Some two billion people in the world — more than a quarter of the global population — remain without bank accounts the survey found. More than half of the poorest 40% of people in developing countries still do not have accounts.

A significant gender gap also remains in the access to accounts. A similar survey in 2011 found that less than half of the women in the world had a bank account. That number rose to 58% in the latest survey.