In recent years, a large number of countries have implemented policy changes to advance financial inclusion, especially by using digital financial services (DFS). However, results are mixed.
Financial inclusion is a fundamental pillar of development. But Mexico poses a conundrum. In many respects it has been successful at growing its economy and integrating with global markets. Yet among its peers in Latin America, Mexico is the worst-performing at financial inclusion relative to its income; at 36.9%, its rate of inclusion only surpasses three other countries regionally—all with much lower per capita incomes.
Latin America’s economic growth has declined significantly in the last decade. Although a variety of causes can potentially explain this result, there are some structural weaknesses that distinguish Latin America from other regions in the developing world.
Identifying and Verifying Customers: When are KYC Requirements Likely to Become Constraints on Financial Inclusion?
Onerous KYC documentation requirements are widely recognized as a potential constraint to full financial inclusion. However, it is sometimes difficult to judge the extent to which this constraint is a serious or binding one, relative to others. The paper considers this question, distinguishing between different types of documentation and different financial market segments according to their KYC requirements.
Mexico’s financial risks and the policies being adopted by the new administration cannot be adequately assessed without recognizing key features that characterize certain initial conditions.
Does the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Help or Hinder Financial Inclusion? A Study of FATF Mutual Evaluation Reports
As the organization responsible for setting international standards on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT), the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has encouraged countries to design measures that protect the integrity of the financial system and support financial inclusion. But it has also received criticism that poor implementation of its standards can undermine financial access.
The report considers three different channels through which Basel III can affect financial stability and development in EMDEs: (1) effects on the volume, composition, and stability of capital flows arising from the implementation of Basel III in advanced economies; (2) effects on financial stability and a level playing field from the adoption of the Basel framework by the home countries of affiliates of foreign banks operating in EMDEs; and (3) effects on financial stability, broad access to financial services, and deepening of local financial systems from the implementation of Basel III by EMDEs themselves.
A CGD Task Force assessed the implications of Basel III for EMDEs and provided recommendations for both international and local policymakers to make Basel III work for these economies. This brief summarizes the key findings and recommendations.
Midline Effects of a Randomized Controlled Trial to Increase the Utilization of Financial Services by Women Business Owners in Rural Indonesia - Working Paper 506
This is the report of a midline evaluation of a randomized controlled trial to increase the utilization of saving and other financial services by women business owners in Indonesia.
Savings can help businesses expand, by enabling them to finance lumpy investments and absorb unexpected shocks. However, several barriers stand in the way of women firm owners in developing countries who want to increase their savings.
In November 2015, CGD published the report Unintended Consequences of Anti–Money Laundering Policies for Poor Countries, which warned that efforts to curb illicit finance were producing significant adverse side effects. This new report takes stock of what has been accomplished as well as what remains to be done.
Women own more than half of all micro, small, and medium enterprises in Indonesia. But of the estimated 22–33 million businesswomen in the country, most operate informal unregistered microenterprises, with significantly fewer assets and profits than men’s.
An Index of Regulatory Practices for Financial Inclusion in Latin America: Enablers, Promoters, and Preventers - Working Paper 468
This paper constructs an index of regulatory quality for improving financial inclusion for the purpose of assessing and comparing the quality of rules and regulations in a sample of eight Latin American countries.
This work analyzes fresh data made available by updated, more comprehensive Enterprise Surveys of formal firms of various sizes and, importantly, of informal firms. It concentrates on five countries (the DRC, Ghana, Kenya, Myanmar, and Rwanda) to provide more fine-grained insights into differences in characteristics and productivity levels between formal and informal firms or different sizes in different developing countries.
We experimentally test the impact of expanding access to basic bank accounts in Uganda, Malawi, and Chile. Over two years, 17 percent, 10 percent, and 3 percent of treatment individuals made five or more deposits, respectively. Average monthly deposits for them were at the 79th, 91st, and 96th percentiles of baseline savings. Survey data show no clearly discernible intention-to-treat effects on savings or any downstream outcomes. This suggests that policies merely focused on expanding access to basic accounts are unlikely to improve welfare noticeably since impacts, even if present, are likely small and diverse.
In spite of recent progress in the usage of alternative financial services by adult populations, Latin America’s financial inclusion gaps have not reduced, relatively to comparable countries, and, in some cases, have even increased during the period 2011-2014. Institutional weaknesses play the most salient role through direct and indirect effects. Lack of enforcement of the rule of law directly reduces depositors’ incentives to entrust their funds to formal financial institutions. Indirectly, low institutional quality reinforces the adverse effects of insufficient bank competition on financial inclusion.
Women’s economic empowerment is increasingly recognized as critical to achieving development outcomes around the world. Informed by a roundtable discussion at the Center for Global Development (CGD) and additional suggestions from CGD researchers, this four-point memo aims to issue practical proposals for the next US administration, particularly aimed at economically empowering women and girls worldwide, as a building block toward the full realization of broader gender equality and women’s agency and empowerment. The recommendations build on those in CGD’s The White House and the World briefing book, as well as the CGD policy memo “A US Law or Executive Order to Combat Gender Apartheid in Discriminatory Countries” and ongoing work at CGD focused on women’s financial inclusion.
Balancing Financial Integrity with Financial Inclusion: The Risk-Based Approach to “Know Your Customer”
Recognizing the importance of financial inclusion as a policy objective, regulators have endorsed the use of a risk-based approach (RBA) towards know-your-customer (KYC) requirements aimed at strengthening financial integrity. This paper considers applications of the RBA in domestic banking, mobile money and international financial transactions against the features of a rigorous RBA where both the rigor and level of due diligence and the structure and balance of incentives should be proportional to the balance of risks, including that of exclusion. Recommendations include greater attention to national identification systems and to encourage the use of digital technology to shift from cash-cash wire transfers to more transparent account-account transactions between identified holders.