Scott Anderson

Visualizing Financial Inclusion (and Shaping It)

Want to see just how fast financial inclusion is spreading? Just map it.

The Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion, an arm of the G20 concerned with the expanse of financial inclusion for non-G20 nations, recently released a very illustrative map that colors in the advance of bank branches, individual, and small and medium sized business accounts and credit around the world. Using data from the World Bank and funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the tool also enables users to build their own maps by country or region through the data indicators.

For example, below you can watch the map reveal the number of commercial bank branches per 100,000 adults.

(Hat tip: Consultative Group to Assist the Poor.)

What will this map look like in, say, five, six or even seven years? Will reasonable access to credit, payment systems, savings accounts and other financial tools for low-income people streak across this and other interactive maps? With the year 2020 as the target, the Center for Financial Inclusion, along with Citi and Visa, are building a campaign leading up to the Financial Inclusion 2020 conference, set for Oct. 28-30 in London. Although the conference itself is invitation-only given the limited capacity and massive interest, this is a big tent effort. CFI and other stakeholders hope to unite the private sector, government, NGOS and startups, to accelerate the already rapid pace of financial services for the poor. The goal is to improve the dialogue between regulators/policy makers and financial services providers, better understand the role microfinance plays in financial inclusion, and improve the quality of financial products while reaching hard-to-serve areas.

While there has never been more interest in and activity around the wide spectrum of financial inclusion, the players – from the global banks to new mobile money startups – are sometimes working at cross purposes and following wildly different courses. Charting out the priorities and setting an agenda is the goal behind the campaign’s Roadmap to Full Financial Inclusion.

CFI is currently accepting contributions on the draft roadmap in the form of either one-on-one interviews with experts on one or more of the conference’s five focus areas (listed below), or feedback through a password protected website. Those interested in providing feedback through one-on-one conversations or receiving the log-in to the password protected website, can reach out to Amanda Lotz (

Here are FI2020’s five themes:

  • Clients and products, chaired by CGAP, focuses on deepening an understanding of client needs and translating that knowledge into practice while expanding the range of financial services available to underserved markets.
  • Technology, chaired by Visa, analyzes the potential of new technology-intensive channels to reach new customers, lower operating costs, increase security and diversify financial products available to low-income clients.
  • Financial capability, chaired by Citi, focuses on empowering clients to know their rights as consumers, and to have the skills, attitudes, aspirations and confidence to exercise those rights.
  • Client Protection, chaired by the Smart Campaign, outlines steps to deepen the implementation of client protection measures for the benefit of clients and the stability of markets.
  • Credit Reporting, chaired by International Finance Corporation (IFC), promotes extending credit reporting systems in order to expand access for new clients while managing risk for financial institutions.

That roadmap, which will be presented at the conference and shared widely afterward, builds on the Opportunities and Obstacles to Financial Inclusion, an in-depth survey of more than 300 industry experts. For much more on the campaign and the shape the conference is taking, please check out this webinar that assembled many of the organizers:

financial inclusion, microfinance