COVID-19 responsible for rise in digital payments – World Bank

The World Bank has attributed the surge in use of digital payments to the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that three-quarters of adults now have a bank or mobile money account.

In low and middle-income economies (excluding China), over 40 per cent of adults who made merchant in-store or online payments used a card, phone, or the internet for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

The Bank said, “As of 2021, 76 per cent of adults globally now have an account at a bank, other financial institution, or with a mobile money provider, up from 68 per cent in 2017 and 51 per cent in 2011.

It stated that importantly, growth in account ownership was evenly distributed across many more countries. While in previous Findex surveys over the last decade much of the growth was concentrated in India and China, this year’s survey found that the percentage of account ownership increased by double digits in 34 countries since 2017.”

Bill Gates, the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said, “The digital revolution has catalyzed increases in the access and use of financial services across the world, transforming ways in which people make and receive payments, borrow, and save”.

He added, “Creating an enabling policy environment, promoting the digitalization of payments, and further broadening access to formal accounts and financial services among women and the poor are some of the policy priorities to mitigate the reversals in development from the ongoing overlapping crises.”

According to the Bank, mobile money adoption in Sub-Saharan Africa has increased to the point where 33 per cent of adults there now have a mobile money account, which is three times higher than the 10 per cent global average.

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