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Latin America continues strong performance in financial inclusion

2015 Global Microscope rates environments for access to finance; overall scores improve worldwide

Access to affordable, diverse financial services is expanding and deepening in many parts of the world, according to the 2015 Global Microscope on Financial Inclusion. Two-thirds of the countries studied have improved their enabling environment for financial inclusion in the past year. Latin America and the Caribbean and East and South Asia are tied for the overall highest regional score, and Latin American countries hold five of the top ten overall national scores, with Peru in first place, Colombia in second, Chile in sixth, and Bolivia and Mexico tied for eighth place.

“Country commitments, new initiatives on electronic payments, and continued integration to mainstreaming financial systems are paving the road for financial inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Sergio Navajas, senior specialist at the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group and a founding sponsor of the Global Microscope. He added, “Increasingly, financial inclusion is understood as a key characteristic of a healthy financial system, and the Microscope offers a unique perspective through which to measure this.”

The report, Global Microscope 2015: The Enabling Environment for Financial Inclusion, was produced by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in collaboration with the MIF; CAF—Development Bank of Latin America, the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion, and the MetLife Foundation. This is the ninth annual edition of the Microscope, and the second in which it broadened its analysis beyond the microfinance sector to analyze a set of 12 indicators measuring the regulatory ecosystems supporting financial inclusion in 55 countries around the world.

Highlights in this year’s Global Microscope related to Latin America and the Caribbean include:

  • The Latin American and Caribbean region leads in four of the twelve Microscope indicators: prudential regulation, regulation and supervision of branches and agents, market conduct rules, and grievance redress and operation of dispute resolution.
  • This year’s top scorers, Peru, Colombia, and the Philippines, share characteristics on key conditions for success. All three countries have ongoing strategies for financial inclusion, have a comprehensive approach that includes multiple services and multiple providers, and are taking serious steps to revamp their payment systems.
  • Colombia and El Salvador have the highest score globally in prudential regulation and exemplify the solid foundation of the region’s financial systems. In market conduct, Bolivia and Peru are global examples for creating functioning market rules that protect the financial consumer and promote transparency in the provision of financial services.
  • While Haiti is the index’s lowest scorer, it had a strong improvement over its 2014 score, thanks to its new financial inclusion strategy, which is still under implementation but has already led to strengthened regulatory and supervision capacity and the creation of a new credit bureau.

About the IDB

The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source oflong-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region. The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, is funded by 39 donors and supports private sector-led development benefitting low-income populations and the poor - their businesses, their farms, and their households.

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