Where's the Data on Branchless Banking?

Feb 07, 2013, 10:00 ET from CGAP

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As financial inclusion has become a policy priority for governments and a larger number of branchless banking deployments reach scale, institutions such as CGAP, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, GSMA, IFC, MasterCard Foundation, MIX, UNCDF, and USAID are developing an understanding of the most meaningful branchless banking and financial inclusion indicators. A new blog series on CGAP.org identifies the key data sources currently available and illustrates their strengths as well as the remaining gaps.

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A trend toward more demand-side data has been especially important as policymakers and practitioners aim to make good decisions around what actually works for clients. For example, the Financial Inclusion Tracking Surveys (FITS) reveal that 1 in 5 Ugandan households and 1 in 3 Tanzanian households have mobile money users, but in rural areas, mobile penetration remains low. The data indicate that the availability of agents and recommendations of friends were the two main drivers of mobile uptake in rural areas – actionable information for mobile providers like MTN.

Even as more and more supply- and demand-side data sources on financial inclusion become available, data around branchless banking is still hard to come by – partly due to a lack of common definitions or indicators, but also because branchless banking is a rapidly changing landscape that is new and difficult to define. In order to enable policy decisions that have impact, filling these information gaps is crucial. Financial inclusion practitioners are constantly trying to find better ways to better understand the 2.5 billion people excluded from the formal financial system worldwide, and evaluating the various ways they engage with branchless banking and digital financial services is key to getting the full picture.

Visit CGAP.org for more information on branchless banking data sources and to read all the posts in this series.

Contact: Erin M. Scronce
T: +1 202.473.3082
Email: escronce@worldbank.org