Thierry Senechal attended the Financial Inclusion Research Conference at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. The aim of the conference was to bring together researchers and financial industry leaders from around the world to explore how to bridge the gap. Researchers brought the results of their latest research, while industry leaders brought their experience and operational insights to a discussion of the nature of the gap between the unbanked and the banking sector, and how it can be bridged.
Globally, approximately 50% of adults do not have a bank account. These are the financially excluded in society. Whilst predominantly a developing world problem, there are also significant numbers of excluded or unbanked adults in developed regions including Europe and North America. For the unbanked it is a challenge to gain access to banks and the services they offer. For banks it is a challenge to reach the unbanked. This conference discussed issues on how do bridge the gap.
Participants discussed the need for a better understanding of the macro-level effects of financial inclusion. What are the relationships between financial inclusion and aggregate saving rates, economic growth, income distribution and poverty rates? What is the economic channel through which these relationships are sustained?