The world's poor people work hard and long, and they try, like all of us, to save for the future and invest in their children. But we know that the poor - and especially poor women - face formidable barriers to full participation in the economy. In particular, some 2.5 billion people globally are effectively excluded from normal financial services - and that is bad for them, bad for poverty reduction, and bad for growth. Now, a new
Progress on the G20's commitment hasn't been fast enough. Barriers to broader financial access have been costly to overcome. The nearest bank branch is often a day's journey away. Opening an account often involves identity and other documentation that many poor people do not possess and can consume weeks of the person's time. In some societies women face special cultural and household barriers. Private-sector efforts to provide cash-based financial services for small accounts and transactions have encountered stubborn cost constraints. And regulators are stretched balancing their multiple responsibilities to ensure financial sector integrity and stability, consumer protection, and financial inclusion.
When made electronically, payroll or social benefit payments can give women in emerging markets access to the first account in their own name and under their control. Opening an account, with the confidentiality and convenience it provides, can be an important step for women entrepreneurs, and vital assurance for women entering employment in factories or service industries.
Digital financial services can also lead to significant cost savings.
While a number of governments are on a similar path to
Governments are also the biggest spenders in most economies, with the ability to jump-start the transition by digitizing their own financial transactions with citizens - and potentially reduce their costs, as
The G20 accounts for two-thirds of the world's population, over 80% of global economic activity, and virtually all significant financial centers. Its leadership in embracing the new digital financial economy, and in ensuring universal access to its benefits, is absolutely critical.
Most Popular Stories
- More Hispanic Voters May Not Mean More Clout
- 2016 Camaro Shrinks, Moves to Caddy Platform
- Apple Pay Debuts With Few Issues
- Eric Garcia Appointed as Revenue Chief
- Government: 500 Million Records Stolen in 12 Months
- Stocks Subdued After Gains Earlier in Week
- Pistorius Gets 5-year Sentence in Shooting Death
- Mom Makes Toys R Us Pull 'Breaking Bad' Dolls
- Volatility No Reason to Bail on Stock Market
- Cuba Deploys More Medicos in Ebola Fight