Why Half the World Doesn't Have Bank Accounts

Photograph by Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images

In the U.S., bank accounts are nearly ubiquitous, with almost 90 percent of adults having formal accounts. But in poor countries, only a quarter of people report having have accounts. All told, more than 2.5 billion adults around the world—about half—are unbanked, according to a new World Bank data project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and based on Gallup polling in 148 countries. The World Bank launched the Global Financial Inclusion initiative, which it calls Global Findex for short, with both a database and a white paper on the new stats.

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