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BD performance in financial inclusion not impressive

Ranks 19th among 26 countries in global ratings

Jasim Uddin Haroon | September 06, 2017 00:00:00

Bangladesh lags behind neighbouring India and Pakistan in attaining financial inclusion of people from various social strata, according to a survey.

The country ranked 19th, scoring 66 in the ratings, out of 26 countries in the global financial inclusion report.

The US-based Brookings Institution, which has been releasing the Brookings Financial and Digital Inclusion Project Reports (FDIPs) since 2015, said Bangladesh's rank remained same as that of last year.

Bangladesh received its highest score (89 per cent) in the country-commitment category which underscores countries having enhanced their national-level commitments to advancing financial inclusion.

It scored 83 per cent in mobile-capacity category in the year under review. In regulatory-environment category Bangladesh scored 78 per cent while in the adoption category 39 per cent, according to the report.

However, among the neighbouring counties, India ranked 12th, Pakistan 16th and Afghanistan 23rd.

Kenya topped the list, followed by Mexico.

The objective of the Brookings Financial and Digital Inclusion Project (FDIP), which began in the summer of 2014, is to provide policymakers, private-sector entities, representatives of nongovernmental organisations, and the public with information that can help improve financial inclusion in their respective countries and beyond.

The Brookings used selected financial inclusion developments of the countries from June 2016 through the end of May 2017 which are captured in the 2017 country summaries and scorecard.

The new annual FDIP report, published in August 2017, highlights selected financial inclusion-related updates for each of the 26 countries featured in last year's report and identifies possible next steps for advancing financial inclusion, which stands out as a catchphrase in the universally designated sustainable development goals (SDGs).

It noted Bangladesh committed to the Maya Declaration 2012 by Bangladesh Bank. It joined the Better Than Cash Alliance in June 2015.

The report also noted that Bangladesh Bank established the Financial Inclusion Department within the central bank in July 2015. The country has supported its efforts to advance financial literacy and capability among women entrepreneurs.

Recent updates for the country are in May 2017 Bangladesh Bank was awarded the Global Money Week Award at the Global Inclusion Awards 2017, hosted by Child and Youth Finance International, for its 'sustainable and innovative financial inclusion and financial education initiatives'.

It mentions that Bangladesh Bank publishes quarterly reports on agent banking. As of May 2017, the latest report featured data from January to March 2017.

At the time this report was prepared, Bangladesh Bank had published its latest report on the state of financial inclusion in March 2017. Bangladesh Bank has also issued a number of circulars relating to financial inclusion.

The FDIP says the next step for Bangladesh is to finalise, disseminate, and implement the national financial inclusion strategy. The country needs to promote affordability of mobile phones to facilitate greater access to mobile financial services and expand the availability of services like credit, savings, and insurance.

"Advance wallet-to-wallet interoperability with respect to mobile financial services may be next step," the report recommends.

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