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June 2017

Digital financial inclusion: what works and what’s next

Kristalina Georgieva's picture


Over one billion women in the world do not have access to financial services. Having access to a transaction account is a first step for financial freedom and for women to take charge of their lives. 

Women are an underutilized resource in development. Not having access prevents women from having an equal footing in society. Financial inclusion can unleash enormous potential for economic development.

The World Bank’s World Development Report on gender estimated income losses due to women being excluded from the world of work at 10%-37% of GDP across all regions. Research by the World Bank Group, the IMF, the OECD, and private sector studies show that billions can be added to global GDP by advancing women's equality. 

Digital technologies are extending access to finance to millions of people, including women. This is incredibly exciting and the world is placing high stakes on digital technologies as a principal way to bring the 2 billion unbanked adults into the formal and regulated financial system.

It’s much easier today to save, make payments, access credit, and obtain insurance, all of which helps people manage day-to-day expenses, make long-term plans and handle unexpected emergencies.

In 2016, the G20 issued a report led by the World Bank Group and the People’s Bank of China – the High Level Principles for Digital Financial Inclusion - which provided eight recommendations for countries to encourage financial inclusion through digital technologies. A few weeks ago, the G20 finance ministers endorsed a follow-up report which profiles what countries have done in line with these recommendations.

From the slopes to life in a wheelchair

James Dooley Sullivan's picture

Last December, James Dooley Sullivan packed his wheelchair and travelled to Jamaica. The Caribbean nation is a tourist destination, but the trip wasn’t a vacation. Sullivan, an animator and visual arts video editor at the World Bank Group, wanted to see first-hand what it’s like to be disabled in a developing country. He shares his experience and his own history in a video and a series of blog posts.

© Laura Fravel

Life in a wheelchair is pretty straight forward – it just requires a different set of verbs. Each morning I transfer into my chair, roll into the bathroom, and flip onto the toilet. I transfer back into my chair and then wiggle into professional attire. I drink enough tea to become civil before descending on my house’s external lift to the sidewalk.

360° Technological change

Brittany Walters's picture
Also available in: Français | Español | Русский
Young woman checks her phone.
For the World Bank, changes in the global landscape present a challenge in developing innovations and solutions that can address pressing issues around health, education, and social protection. (Photo: Simone D. McCourtie)

The way we communicate, produce, and relate to technology is evolving quickly.
 
Tell me something I don’t know, you’ll say.

That’s where Benedict Evans, a prominent tech guru from the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz ('a16z') in Silicon Valley, comes in. In a recent presentation at the World Bank (Mobile is Eating the World) Evans shared inspiring, and at times, unnerving insights on how technology is shaping our world and how it might impact the global development community.  Here are some key takeaways:    

Five TED Talks that inspired me

Jim Yong Kim's picture
Also available in: Español | Français | 中文
Jim Yong Kim speaks at TED2017. © Marla Aufmuth/TED
Jim Yong Kim speaks at TED2017. © Marla Aufmuth/TED

This April, I had the honor of delivering a TED Talk in Vancouver, Canada. TED Talks aim to inspire and spread ideas, and this year’s theme – The Future Us – explored what lies ahead for the world. 

Artificial intelligence, robotics, and other technological advances hold great promise, but these changes are coming at break-neck speed. I’m afraid many of us aren’t ready. There’s still too much poverty and inequality in the world, and we have a lot of work to provide opportunities for everyone. 

Building resilience, rebuilding lives with dignity

Jim Yong Kim's picture
Also available in: Español | العربية

© Dominic Chavez/World Bank

On World Refugee Day, we pay tribute to faces of resilience – mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, and children, who fled horrific circumstances as refugees, but who continue to strive every day to rebuild their lives with dignity.

As the number of people displaced by conflict climbs to historic highs, it’s easy to lose sight of the faces behind the statistics. But recently, there’s been a sea change in how the world is managing this crisis – by putting people first, and making it possible for refugees to work or go to school and become self-reliant as an integral part of their host country’s development story.

Livable, Sustainable, Inclusive and Resilient cities. Our #Loop4Dev challenge creatively shows what they look like

Zubedah Robinson's picture
A few weeks ago we launched our #Loop4Dev Boomerang challenge, which leverages Instagram’s Boomerang app, to show the world what inclusive, sustainable, livable and resilient cities look like. Thanks to all those who participated, and if you haven’t seen the challenge yet, head over to Instagram and check out the submissions received so far. Join the challenge (if you have not already) and help us raise awareness of the important role cities play in ending poverty.

Financial inclusion for displaced people yields societal and economic benefits for all

Ceyla Pazarbasioglu's picture
Also available in: Français



Sixty-five million people worldwide are displaced by conflict and war.

Developing countries host 95% of them

Displaced people need help. But so do their host communities, which face enormous sudden pressures on their infrastructure, public services and markets. These pressures have the potential to undermine political stability.

This is why international development institutions are rethinking how to approach humanitarian crises, and no longer consider humanitarian assistance and development interventions as two separate, sequential responses. We, at the World Bank, have been ramping up our support to both people and communities affected by fragility, conflict and violence as well as disaster risk, which can exacerbate instability.

Being able to provide quality financial services before, during and after periods of humanitarian crises can improve people’s resilience and help sustain livelihoods. 

In Africa’s drylands, opportunities to cut vulnerability to drought and famine are within reach

Michael Morris's picture
Soil fertility managment and adding trees to farms can boost agricultural productivity and increase the drought tolerance of crops. Photo: Andrea Borgarello

As the global development community marks World Day to Combat Desertification on June 17, large areas of Sub-Saharan Africa will be gripped by extreme drought, leaving millions of people in need of emergency assistance. This is lamentable, because interventions are available that could significantly increase long term resilience to drought. A recent report that we wrote estimates that a set of 5-6 interventions could help reduce the impact of drought by about half in Africa’s drylands, keeping on average 5 million people per year out of danger in some of Africa’s poorest zones.

The report Confronting Drought in Africa’s Drylands: Opportunities for Enhancing Resilience aims to advance measures to reduce the vulnerability and enhance the resilience of populations living in dryland areas of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Forgotten No More: Aid to Fragile States Is a Duty Not an Option

Kristalina Georgieva's picture
© Dasan Bobo / World Bank


In Ethiopia, where poverty was reduced by half in the past 20 years—economists often speak of the Ethiopian miracle— I met women farmers who had managed to turn a dry hill into productive land. I talked to a group of landless youth who had used climate-smart agriculture to restore degraded fields and received land tenure in exchange. I met some women entrepreneurs who received microloans and embarked on a journey from nothing to business ownership. I visited Wukro, a small town in Northern Ethiopia, where labor-intensive cobblestone paving projects had generated jobs for thousands while beautifying the city and lowering the crime rate.

Ethiopia has a long way to go on its road to prosperity—a state of emergency remains in effect due to social unrest in some part of the country, and the threat of food insecurity still looms—but in once-inhospitable places, greenery and opportunities now bloom. Ethiopia is a country that has shown incredible resilience in the face of harsh climate shocks. It is heartening to see that climate smart investments are paying off.

Global opinion leaders show increased use of social media for information on development

Zubedah Robinson's picture
Also available in: 中文 | Français
Social media is increasingly becoming a driver of conversation on several topics including global development. The World Bank’s Public Opinion Research Group conducts  Country Opinion Surveys in about 40 developing countries every year and found that the number of global opinion leaders using social media to get information on global development is steadily increasing.

Vietnam’s financial inclusion priorities: Expanding financial services and moving to a ‘non-cash’ economy

Ceyla Pazarbasioglu's picture



 Also available in: Tiếng Việt

It’s nighttime and the streets are bustling in Vietnam’s cities and towns. Buoyed by years of strong growth, the country has a burgeoning middle class with purchasing power to sustain restaurants and cafes, full and open late into the night, busy retailers and a high penetration of mobile phones – more than one per person. The economy, however, continues to run on cash and a majority of adults still don’t have formal financial services such as a basic transaction account. Moving to a “non-cash” system is a priority for the government to increase efficiency, promote business and economic development and reduce poverty including in remote rural areas where traditional financial providers have difficulty reaching.

Since 2016 the State Bank of Vietnam, the country’s central bank, has been partnering with the World Bank Group on a comprehensive approach to financial inclusion which will result in a national financial inclusion strategy. While still in development, several key elements of the strategy are clear: a focus on digital finance including shifts in government payments to digital products and platforms; providing financial services to rural and agricultural communities and ethnic minorities, where growth has lagged and poverty rates are above the national average; and strengthening consumer protection and financial education so that the next generation of consumers are prepared for a modern financial marketplace.

'Fixing' disaster recovery

Jo Scheuer's picture
Also available in: العربية | Español | Français
Photo credit: Flickr User danvicphot


The link between poverty and disasters is becoming clearer – new research shows that extreme weather events alone are pushing up to 26 million people into poverty every year. With forces like climate change, urban expansion, and population growth driving this trend, annual losses have passed more than $500 billion annually, and show no signs of slowing.

With limited time and resources, however, adequate preparedness for these common events is often neglected in developing countries. The result is a pattern of deficient recovery that is imperiling sustainable development, and leaving millions of the most vulnerable behind.

Перспективы мировой экономики в 10 диаграммах: июнь 2017 года

Global Macroeconomics Team's picture
Всемирный банк прогнозирует повышение темпов роста мировой экономики в 2017 году до 2,7 процента по мере возобновления роста в странах с формирующимся рынком и развивающихся странах, относящихся к экспортерам сырьевых товаров, благодаря оживлению промышленного производства и торговли, росту уверенности участников рынка и стабилизации цен на сырье.
В развитых странах ожидается ускорение экономического роста до 1,9 процента в 2017 году, что благотворно скажется на положении их торговых партнеров. На фоне благоприятных глобальных условий финансирования и стабилизации цен на сырье экономический рост в странах с формирующимся рынком и развивающихся странах, в целом, достигнет в этом году 4,1 процента по сравнению с 3,5 процента в 2016 году. Вместе с тем, эти перспективы омрачаются серьезными факторами риска, к числу которых относятся возможность ужесточения торговых ограничений, неопределенность в области торговой, налогово-бюджетной и кредитно-денежной политики, а в более долгосрочном плане – хронически низкие показатели производительности и прироста инвестиций.

Скачать доклад «Перспективы мировой экономики» за июнь 2017 года (на английском языке).

В 2017 году темпы роста мировой экономики должны повыситься до 2,7 процента, как и прогнозировалось ранее. В странах с формирующейся рыночной экономикой и развивающихся странах (СФРРС) экономический рост, как ожидается, будет заметнее, чем в развитых странах, и составит 4,1 процента.
 
Рост мировой экономики

The Middle East, version 2.0.

Bassam Sebti's picture
Also available in: العربية | Español | Français


Let’s be honest. The Middle East and North Africa is burning, and in some areas it is literally burning. Conflict and fragility have long warped what once was the cradle of civilization and the inspiration for the many inventions we can’t live without today. However, in the midst of that fire hope rises, a driver of change that is transforming the ugly reality into a bright future.
 
After I fled the war in Iraq in 2006, I was pessimistic about what the future was holding for that region. Year after another, the domino-effect of collapse became a reality that shaped the region and its people. Yet, fast-forward to 2017, I have witnessed what I never thought I would see in my lifetime: the new renaissance in the Middle East and North Africa.
 
I have just recently come back from attending the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa at the Dead Sea in Jordan. This year, the Forum and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, partnered to bring together 100 Arab start-ups that are shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
 
There, the positive vibe was all around; no negativity, no pessimism. Instead there was a new sense of optimism and enthusiasm, hunger for change, and the will to take the region to a whole new future, away from conflict and the current norm of pessimism.