Via IMF (Den Internationale Valutafond)

IMF Releases the 2020 Financial Access Survey Results

November 9, 2020

Washington, DC:
On November 9, 2020, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released the
results of the eleventh annual

Financial Access Survey (FAS)


The FAS provides a unique supply-side database on access to and use of
financial services covering 189 jurisdictions, with more than 100 series
and historical data from 2004. The FAS data allow policymakers to measure
and track the progress made in financial access and benchmark it against
that of peers.

The 2020 round offers a pre-pandemic snapshot of the levels of
financial access

The current round of the FAS provides a pre-pandemic snapshot of the levels
of financial access to both traditional and digital financial services.
Overall, access to and usage of financial services, as measured by the FAS
indicators has deepened over time in low- and middle-income economies.
While the number of ATMs per 100,000 adults has grown for the past few
years, the number of commercial bank branches has remained relatively
stable at the 2013 level. These trends likely reflect the recent rise of
non-branch retail agent outlets and digital financial services—such as
mobile money and mobile and internet banking—which continue to play a
significant role in advancing financial access especially in low- and
middle-income countries. Notwithstanding this progress, challenges of
access remain. Notably, women and small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)
have often been excluded from the financial system. Data from the FAS
suggest that progress made in closing the financial access gender gap
varies across countries with microfinance institutions playing an important
role in satisfying the unmet demands of financial services for women in
some economies. Lending to SMEs continues to be constrained.

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Financial Access COVID-19 Policy Tracker was launched to complement
FAS data collection

To supplement country authorities’ efforts to support financial access
during the pandemic, the IMF developed a

Financial Access COVID-19 Policy Tracker
, which documents policy measures implemented to facilitate financing for
SMEs and the use of digital financial services across the world. The Policy
Tracker aims at facilitating information exchange and peer learning among
country authorities about the measures related to SME finance and greater
use of digital financial services in the current pandemic context.

Countries responded with measures to support SME financing during
the COVID-19 pandemic

Social distancing measures in place during the COVID-19 pandemic are
expected to significantly impact SMEs, which account for 90 percent of
businesses and 50 percent of employment worldwide. In response, country
authorities have put in place measures to help SMEs weather the current
pandemic. The measures documented by the Policy Tracker have been
classified into five categories: (i) debt moratoriums, (ii) loan
guarantees, (iii) lower interest rates, (iv) tax relief, and (v) financial

Key policy responses to aid SME finance during the COVID-19 pandemic
Key policy responses to aid SME finance during the COVID-19 pandemic

Source: Financial Access COVID-19 Policy Tracker, IMF. Note: The list
of countries in the figure above is only a subset of those included in
the tracker. Country examples are for illustration purposes only.

Digital financial services provide opportunities in the pandemic
context but also pose risks

Digital financial services, both mobile money and mobile and internet
banking, have two key features—high market penetration and minimal physical
contact to transact—that support undisrupted financial transactions during
the current pandemic. In addition, country authorities across the globe
have enacted emergency measures to encourage the use of digital financial
services. These measures, also documented in the Policy Tracker, can be
classified into four broad categories: (i) person-to-person (P2P)
transaction fee cuts; (ii) increased balance and transaction limits; (iii)
easing of know your customer (KYC) requirements; and (iv) simplified
transaction processes. Bazarbash et al. (2020) discuss the COVID-19
response measures related to mobile money and its associated risks in a
recent IMF Special Series Note on COVID-19. The next round of FAS data
collection—scheduled to start in March 2021—may help provide useful
insights on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on financial access and

IMF Communications Department


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