India at the forefront of global growth in financial inclusion

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Despite the Jan Dhan focus, India is estimated to have 190 million unbanked people, next only to China, where 225 million adults have no access to banking.

The total number of Jan Dhan account holders has risen to 31.44 crore in March, 2018, up from 28.17 crore a year earlier, according to government data.

Globally, 69 per cent of adults - 3.8 billion people - now have an account at a bank or mobile money provider, a crucial step in escaping poverty. Since 2014, the Indian government has been pushing a program to sign up individuals for simple, no-fee accounts tied to government biometric identification cards.

"The Global Findex database has become a mainstay of global efforts to promote financial inclusion", World Bank Development Research Group Director Asli Demirgüç-Kunt said.

Globally, 1.7 billion adults remain unbanked, yet two-thirds of them own a mobile phone that could help them access financial services.

This is up from 62 per cent in 2014 and just 51 per cent in 2011.

Four-fifths of Indian adults have opened bank accounts by 2017, compared with just 53% in 2014, when the incumbent government came to the power, show data from the Global Findex Report that highlighted New Delhi's contribution to global growth in financial inclusion.

The bank said China and India, despite having relatively high account ownership, claim large shares of the global unbanked population due to their sheer size.

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A World Bank report says nearly half of India's bank users have an account that has remained inactive in the past year.

It is heartening to see that of these 51.4 crore accounts, the number of Jan Dhan Accounts opened in India during the same period is about 28.17 crore, constituting nearly 55 per cent of the accounts opened globally during this period.

In the latest update to its Global Findex database, the World Bank found that 1.2 billion adults had gotten bank accounts since 2011 and 515 million since 2014, bringing the share of adults with accounts to 69 percent previous year. The gap between rich and poor adults within economies has also stalled, at about 13 percentage points in recent studies.

Among men and among adults in the wealthiest 60% of households, it increased by about 20 percentage points, the report said.

In developing countries, the gap in financial inclusion between men and women has stalled at nine percentage points.

Digital technology could take advantage of existing cash transactions to bring people into the financial system, the report stated.

According to the report, the gender gap in the use of digital payments varies substantially among developing economies. About 65 million account owners in India still use cash to send or receive domestic remittances.