Nongovernmental organizations can help facilitate financial inclusion by partnering with the private sector, spreading financial literacy through education, ensuring mobile phones reach women and voicing what financial services beneficiaries need, according to a group of industry leaders.

Despite gains in the number of people worldwide who have opened bank accounts — 700 million during the past three years — the gender gap persists and many bank accounts lie dormant, according to the most recent Global Findex report that measures how people interact with financial products.

The increase in the number of people banked “happened almost exclusively through use of digital technology,” said Mary Ellen Iskenderian, president of Women’s World Banking, during the Global Philanthropy Forum in Washington, D.C., last week.

Women are are less likely than men to own a mobile phone, she told Devex, which is a primary reason why “the gender gap didn’t budge.”

Another critical challenge is dormant accounts, or mobile money accounts with no transactions, or savings accounts with little or no money, said Douglas Sabo, vice president and head of corporate philanthropy and responsibility at Visa Inc.

“Of those who are now banked or financially included, are they really included if they’re not using services we just gave them?” he asked at a panel that examined challenges to full inclusion.

 

Read the full article at Devex Impact.