World Bank finds Cambodia’s increase in financial inclusion among fastest in region

The World Bank says Cambodia has one of the fastest increases in financial inclusion among developing economies in East Asia and the Pacific.

In the latest Global Findex Database released in Washington Wednesday, the bank said 76 percent of people worldwide had an account with a financial institution or mobile money provider in 2021 — up from 51 percent in 2017.

“The digital revolution has catalysed increases in the access and use of financial services,” World Bank President David Malpass said.

In East Asia and the Pacific, the bank said financial inclusion was a “two-part story” of what’s happening in China versus other developing economies.

In China, 89 percent of adults have an account, and 82 percent of adults use it to make digital merchant payments.

In the rest of the region, 59 percent of adults have an account and 23 percent of adults make such payments.

“Double-digit increases in account ownership were achieved in Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Thailand,” the bank said.

In Cambodia, 33 percent of adults had an account in 2021, up from 22 percent in 2017. The same proportion of women and 23 percent of poor adults in Cambodia had an account last year.

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, urged governments to “build on the progress reported in the Findex and expand access to financial services for all who need them.”

Gates, one of the supporters of the database, said the world had an opportunity to “provide a gateway to prosperity for billions of people.”

The World Bank found that Cambodian adults in urban areas were almost twice as likely to have an account than those in rural areas.

Among unbanked Cambodian adults, 35 percent cited distance as a barrier — and yet 75 percent of them also reported owning a mobile phone.

Among other regional findings were that 64 percent of adults in Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines were “very worried” about medical expenses.

And in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos and the Philippines, “over half of adults are very worried about old age,” the bank said. AKP-Sao Da