Approximately 50 percent of the global adult population - or 2.5 billion people - are excluded from the formal financial system. Who are the unbanked? The vast majority of these adults are concentrated in the developing world - only a third of South Asians, a quarter of Sub-Saharan Africans, and less than a fifth of Middle-Easterners and North Africans have an account at a formal financial institution (Demirguc-Kunt & Klapper, 2012). Why are these people unbanked? A shortage of money, excessive cost, distance to a bank, and documentation requirements are reported by the unbanked themselves as the main barriers to financial access.
In the World Bank Finances team, we're currently asking ourselves what's next after publishing open financial data? What comes after transparency?
There's of course a lot we still need to do -- we need to help other people publish data (other people's data can make ours even more powerful and help tell more complete stories), we need to help people learn to use our data, we need to raise awareness about the availability and potential of open data, there of course is more (and more granular) data we still need to publish, and the like.
Last month, while World Bank President Jim Yong Kim launched the gender data portal, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remarked that “data not only measures progress, it inspires it”. Indeed when data is both relevant and effectively communicated, it can help to inform policies, identify challenges, and catalyze changes and innovations that deliver development results.
With that goal in mind, we started an Open Data Lab. One of our objectives is to help the development community become more effective data communicators by experimenting with different data visualization techniques and tools. The human brain finds it easier to process data and information if it is presented as an image rather than raw numbers or words. And visualizations that let and encourage users to interact with data can deepen their understanding of the information presented.