Almost 70 percent of Filipino adults do not have their own bank accounts, making the Philippines one of the laggards in terms of access to financial services in the Asean, according to a report released by the World Bank.
In the Global Findex Database 2014: Measuring Financial Inclusion Around the World, only 31 percent of adult Filipinos have bank accounts.
Some 38 percent of those who have bank accounts are women.
Also only 18 of the poorest 40 percent of Filipino households have bank accounts nationwide.
“Access to financial services can serve as a bridge out of poverty. We have set a hugely ambitious goal—universal financial access by 2020—and now we have evidence that we’re making major progress,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said.
“This effort will require many partners: credit-card companies, banks, microcredit institutions, the United Nations, foundations and community leaders. But we can do it, and the payoff will be millions of people lifted out of poverty,” Kim added.
In Asean, Singapore consistently topped the list with a 96-percent bank-account penetration among adults in the poorest 40 percent of households.
Malaysia was consistently in second place by registering an 81-percent account penetration among adults; 78 percent among women; and 76 percent among adults in the poorest 40 percent households.
The report also stated that the Philippines is one of only a handful of countries worldwide whose citizens are most likely to borrow from private informal lenders to access credit.
It stated that more than 10 percent of adults reported borrowing from a private informal lender in the Philippines, Myanmar, Panama, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Data also showed that 15 percent to 20 percent of Filipinos would send and receive domestic remittances through money-transfer operators.
“In Colombia and the Philippines people are most likely to use a money-transfer operator. About three-quarters of adults who reported sending or receiving remittances said that they used this method,” the report stated.
With this, the report stated that money-transfer operators have more counters compared with bank branches in Colombia and the Philippines.
Further, the report stated that domestic remittance businesses were built on existing infrastructure that these operators are also set up to receive international remittances.
Meanwhile, the report stated that between 2011 and 2014, the percentage of adults with an account increased from 51 percent to 62 percent, a trend driven by a 13-percentage-point rise in account ownership in developing countries and the role of technology.
In particular, mobile money accounts in Sub-Saharan Africa are helping to rapidly expand and scale up access to financial services. Along with these gains, data also show big opportunities for boosting financial inclusion among women and poor people.
Between 2011 and 2014, the report estimated that 700 million people became account holders at banks, other financial institutions, or mobile money service providers, and the number of “unbanked” individuals dropped 20 percent to 2 billion adults.
“The 2014 Findex found there is still more work to be done to expand financial inclusion among women and the poorest households. More than half of adults in the poorest 40 percent of households in developing countries were still without accounts in 2014,” the World Bank said. The report stated that the gender gap in account ownership is not significantly narrowing. In 2011 some 47 percent of women and 54 percent of men had a bank account. In 2014 around 58 percent of women had an account, compared to 65 percent of men.
Regionally, the report stated that the gender gap is largest in South Asia, where 37 percent of women have an account compared to 55 percent of men, an 18-percentage-point gap.