Washington: The World Bank Group and a broad coalition of partners, including the State Bank of India, have made commitments that will help promote financial inclusion and achieve universal financial access by the year 2020.
Galvanizing private-sector investment and innovation to accelerate universal financial access, including through enabling policy and regulatory frameworks, was the focus of a flagship event at the World Bank headquarters here Friday. It brought together private-sector leaders, government regulators and the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The 2020 goal calls for adults worldwide to have access to a transaction account or an electronic instrument to store money, send and receive payments, recognizing financial access as a basic building block to managing an individual's financial life.
Access to a transaction account is a first step toward broader financial inclusion, which helps poor families escape poverty and afford essential social services such as water, electricity, housing, education and health care.
For small firms and medium-sized enterprises access to financing can help them reduce risks, grow and expand operations.
"More than 700 million people gained financial access between 2011 and 2014, and this gives us fresh evidence that our ambitious goal of universal access by 2020 is attainable," said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.
"The World Bank Group's role is to convene and energize a coalition of partners-and also to step up our work. Over the next five years, our institution commits to enabling as many as 1 billion adults, who are now financially excluded, to gain access to a transaction account."
Private-sector leaders from around the world came forward with a committed set of actions to reach a specific number of people by year 2020.
"Since inception, the State Bank of India has played a major role in expanding financial inclusion agenda in the country," said Arundhati Bhattacharya, chairman of the State Bank of India, a panellist at the event.
"During the first three years of its Financial Inclusion Plan (2010-13), SBI covered 20531 villages and opened 20.2 million new accounts," she said. "As part of the second Financial Inclusion Plan (2013-16) we reached to 85130 villages and opened 70 million accounts."
"We see a huge opportunity in our 70 million customers. All these customers can be sold pension and insurance products. Based on transaction history, they can be credit linked and become part of the global financial system," Bhattacharya said.
Announcing MasterCard's commitment to the World Bank Group's efforts toward universal financial access, its Indian American CEO & President Ajay Banga said: "Our target is to reach 500 million people currently considered to be excluded from the financial mainstream."
"In making this commitment, we recognise that reaching full financial inclusion by 2020 requires the active engagement and commitment of the private sector, working in partnership with governments and international development organizations."
"Together, we can be agents of transformative change who create more inclusive economies and more empowered populations," he said.