KARACHI: The percentage of adults in Pakistan with an account at a bank or another type of financial institution is 8.7%, according to the latest statistics on financial inclusion released by the World Bank.
The percentage of such adults stood at 10.3% three years ago when the first edition of the Global Findex Database was released in 2012.
Pakistan fares poorly in comparison with its peers in South Asia as well as countries in the lower middle income group. As opposed to Pakistan’s average of 8.7%, the percentage of adults in South Asia and lower middle income countries with an account at a bank or another type of financial institution is 45.5% and 41.8%, respectively.
The Global Findex Database shows only 2.9% adults have a debit card in Pakistan as opposed to the South Asia-wide average of 18%. There has been no change in the percentage of debit card-holding adults in Pakistan over the last three years while the corresponding average for the South Asia region has gone up from 7.2% to 18%.
As for mobile accounts, Pakistan performs relatively better than its peers in South Asia and lower middle income countries. While 5.8% adults have a mobile account, according to the Global Findex Database, the corresponding readings for South Asia and lower middle income group were 2.6% and 2.5%, respectively.
Only 3.3% adults in Pakistan saved in a financial institution in the past year unlike 12.7% in South Asia and 14.8% in lower middle income countries.
Currently, the microfinance penetration rate in Pakistan is only 11.4%, with the number of active micro-savers in excess of 8.5 million.
According to Tameer Bank CEO Nadeem Hussain, the microfinance industry needs ‘interventions’ at multiple levels in order to achieve the customer base of 10 million by 2018.
Last year came to an end with active savers showing the largest increase among all outreach indicators – the number of savers and the value of savings increased by 43% and 25%, respectively, over the preceding year.
However, micro-credit outreach recorded a modest growth in the last quarter of 2014 with active borrowers growing by a meagre 1% and gross loan portfolio increasing by 3% only.