World Bank calls for broader access to finance

Between 50 and 80 percent of adults in many developing countries have inadequate access to financial services, finds a new World Bank policy research report entitled “Finance for All? Policies and Pitfalls in Expanding Access”. According to the report, failure to provide more households and small and medium enterprises with the financial services they need acts as a brake on development. While noting the microfinance industry’s progress in delivering credit to poor people, the report calls for a broader financial strategy that delivers services to all excluded people and firms. Inclusive financial systems ultimately benefit the poorest people and the smallest firms the most, by creating more jobs, raising incomes, and generating more opportunities for small businesses. The report says that governments should strengthen institutions and adopt new technologies to bring down transaction costs. Research suggests that governments should also encourage competition—including foreign bank entry—and provide the right regulatory incentives. In contrast, direct interventions by governments, such as through credit subsidies or government-owned financial institutions, can be counter-productive, reducing incentives for the private sector to deliver services to the poor.,,menuPK:4099731~pagePK:64168092~piPK:64168088~theSitePK:4099598,00.html