Joint effort vital for better banking access

BANKS must work together with policymakers, technology providers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to improve global access to financial services and boost economic growth in the wake of the financial crisis, a new report has found.

According to the “Banking for Billions” report, launched today by Barclays and the Economist Intelligence Unit, 2.5bn people across the globe still do not use formal or semi-formal financial services,

Barclays said policy and regulation need to be revamped in order to improve the fortunes of microfinance institutions, which have suffered over the crisis from a lack of access to investor capital. The bank believes technological advances could be wielded effectively to widen access to banking services in impoverished areas. One billion of the world’s population currently own a mobile phone but do not have a bank account.

Deanna Oppenheimer, chief executive of Barclays UK retail bank, said: “Mobile telephony, smart cards and electronic transfers will present a lifeline to the unbanked. The challenge for regulators will be to reshape legislation in ways that protect the customer, but do not hamper the development of innovation.”