A World Bank report revealed that Filipino women, youth and the poor get the short end of the stick when it comes to owning bank accounts in the Philippines.
The World Bank’s Global Index 2021 database showed that the gender gap in account ownership in the Philippines is 8 percentage points, while the age gap is 15 percentage points.
The report said the income gap in terms of account ownership in the Philippines and Turkey remained stagnant at more than 20 percentage points.
It seems difficult to explain the very large increase in the male-female gap in the Philippines and the significant decrease in Pakistan. Only five countries had a negative male-female difference in 2021, while the gaps in India, the Republic of Korea, and Sri Lanka were zero,” Peter J. ADBI wrote in the Asiapathways blog.
The report noted that in the East Asia and Pacific region, where the Philippines belongs, there is “almost no gender gap” in account ownership in Indonesia, Mongolia and Thailand.
The age gap in account ownership in the Philippines is similar to the global age gap but described as worse compared to China and Turkey where there is no significant difference in account ownership between age groups.
The report also stated that Myanmar, another member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), where younger adults are 11 percentage points more likely than older adults to have.
As for the income gap in account ownership, the World Bank said, many developing economies such as the Philippines still have double-digit income gaps.
Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia, where account ownership ranges from 45 percent to 66 percent, the gap is more than 20 percentage points, the report said.
However, the World Bank said Mongolia and Thailand have already achieved near-universal account ownership with roughly equal coverage of richer and poorer adults.
“Gender and income are not the only individual traits that appear to be important for the likelihood of account ownership. The report noted that age, educational level, employment status, and rural residency were all associated with significant differences in account ownership.
The report stated that if these disadvantaged sectors such as women are given access to accounts, these women will be more empowered and have a higher voice in the family in terms of financial resources.
The report stated that a study in the Philippines showed that women who used commitment savings products that encouraged regular depositing into a personal bank account increased their decision-making power at home.
This financial independence also shifted their family’s spending to household goods related to their needs, such as washing machines.
Morgan said that part of the effort to improve access to bank accounts is using financial technology (fintech), such as having a mobile cash account or making or receiving a digital transfer.
While this may highlight the need to address the digital divide, fintech continues to provide opportunities to achieve financial inclusion not only for women but for youth and those with low incomes.
“Given that fintech is expected to play an important role in promoting financial inclusion, the digital gender divide threatens to present a significant barrier to increasing women’s financial inclusion,” Morgan said.
“This points to the need for policies to increase access to digital financial services and digital financial literacy for women,” he added.