How the Five A’s of Financial Inclusion Drive Results.
One of the outstanding explanations of financial inclusion is given by the World Bank. According to the World Bank, “financial inclusion means that individuals and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs – transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance – delivered in a responsible and sustainable way.”
This definition establishes the fundamentals of financial inclusion which is conveyed through five A’s – availability, affordability, accessibility, awareness, and adequacy. With the application of these A’s, countries will experience low levels of financial inclusion gaps, because individuals who reside in both rural and urban areas will be empowered to meet their basic needs.
At the core of financial inclusion exist certain characteristics that define its results. These are expressed through five A’s (identified by Sujlana & Kiran in their study).
In simple terms, this means making available the different types of financial services (payments, savings, credit and insurance, etc) to individuals regardless of their social class, income level, religion, occupation, etc. In many societies, it’s clear that rural communities have low access to these services because they are believed to be low-income earners who are less educated and work menial jobs or focus on agriculture.
If these individuals can access savings and other financial services, they will be in a better position to improve their finances.
It is not enough for financial products and services to be available to anyone, providers need to ensure they are affordable. Individuals, especially in rural areas would consider using these services if they are at a lower cost. With accessing loans, individuals will be interested in low-interest rates.
This factor means that financial products and services should be easily accessible by individuals and businesses, even to those residing in rural areas. Before the rise of fintech in Africa, banks were the sole provider of financial services, which resulted in a limited positive impact on individuals and businesses. Many of them lacked access to loans to grow their businesses coupled with other challenges they faced. Individuals in rural areas could rarely access financial services because a number of bank branches were located far away. For existing fintech to reach the unbanked and underbanked, they must make financial services accessible and within reach.
Awareness is a crucial foundation of ensuring people are informed about a solution. When people are aware of a solution that can improve their lives, there’s a higher chance they will engage with it. As one of the A’s, ‘Awareness’ involves crafting creative strategies to communicate the benefits/ importance of financial products and services to customers. This may be traditional and digital and will include rolling out campaigns at community (villages- radio, chief heads, etc) and mass media (TV, radio, digital, etc) levels.
Every financial provider has the capability to promote responsible and sustainable financial services.
Another word for this would be ‘appropriate.’ This implies providing financial products and services that are tailored to the needs of individuals. For many individuals in rural communities, smaller loans may seem appropriate for them as compared to the urban areas where individuals are offered loans in huge amounts.
These five factors are intertwined and the absence of anyone may ultimately affect the financial inclusion target of countries worldwide.