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Financial Development: New Book Shows that Low-Income People Are “Bankable”

World Bank: “More than 800 million “unbankable” low-income people already are actively using banking and other financial services, suggesting that expanding financial access can not only benefit the poor but create millions of new customers for the financial industry, according to a new book. The book, Banking the World: Empirical Foundations of Financial Inclusion, shows that the population living on less than $5 a day, adjusted by purchasing price parity, makes up more than two-thirds of those using formal financial services in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. That contradicts the theory that income and urbanization drive the demand for services by banks and other financial institutions. Even in cross-country comparisons, income isn’t the only deciding factor for financial access.For example, the percentage of people using formal banking is higher in India and Thailand than in countries with similar gross domestic product or urbanization. That means financial access can be expanded with the right kind of regulation and policy, along with industry participation, even when a country’s socioeconomic and demographic context remains the same.”

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