New Study Confirms that Digital Payments have Grown Significantly in the Last Two Years
According to the Global Findex 2021 database, the COVID pandemic has spurred financial inclusion – driving a significant increase in digital payments amid the global expansion of formal financial services. This expansion created new economic opportunities, narrowing the gender gap in account ownership, and building resilience at the household level to better manage financial shocks. As of 2021, 76% of adults globally now have an account at a bank, other financial institution, or with a mobile money provider, up from 68% in 2017 and 51% in 2011. Importantly, growth in account ownership was evenly distributed across many more countries. While in previous Findex surveys over the last decade much of the growth was concentrated in India and China, this year’s survey found that the percentage of account ownership increased by double digits in 34 countries since 2017.
COVID has also led to increased use of digital payments. In low and middle-income economies (excluding China), over 40% of adults who made merchant in-store or online payments using a card, phone, or the internet did so for the first time since the start of the pandemic. The same was true for more than 33% of adults in all low- and middle-income economies who paid a utility bill directly from a formal account. In India, more than 80m adults made their first digital merchant payment after the start of the pandemic, while in China over 100m adults did. 66% of adults worldwide now make or receive a digital payment, with the share in developing economies growing from 35% in 2014 to 57% in 2021. In developing economies, 71% have an account at a bank, other financial institution, or with a mobile money provider, up from 63% in 2017. Mobile money accounts drove a huge increase in financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa.
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