Jakarta: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has released the results of the eleventh annual Financial Access Survey (FAS).
The FAS provides a unique supply-side database on access to and use of financial services covering 189 jurisdictions, with more than 100 series and historical data from 2004.
The FAS data allow policymakers to measure and track the progress made in financial access and benchmark it against that of peers.
"The 2020 round offers a pre-pandemic snapshot of the levels of financial access," said the IMF in a press release on Monday.
The current round of the FAS provides a pre-pandemic snapshot of the levels of financial access to both traditional and digital financial services.
Overall, access to and usage of financial services, as measured by the FAS indicators has deepened over time in low- and middle-income economies.
While the number of ATMs per 100,000 adults has grown for the past few years, the number of commercial bank branches has remained relatively stable at the 2013 level.
These trends likely reflect the recent rise of non-branch retail agent outlets and digital financial services—such as mobile money and mobile and internet banking—which continue to play a significant role in advancing financial access especially in low- and middle-income countries.
Notwithstanding this progress, challenges of access remain. Notably, women and small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) have often been excluded from the financial system.
Data from the FAS suggest that progress made in closing the financial access gender gap varies across countries with microfinance institutions playing an important role in satisfying the unmet demands of financial services for women in some economies.
Lending to SMEs continues to be constrained.(WAH)
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