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Rabat – Even as Morocco attempts to make strides in general modernization and the digitization of its economy, the North African country has the lowest percentage of population that has access to banking institutions.
According to a study by the British research platform Merchant Machine, Morocco has proportionally-speaking the largest population of unbanked citizens, standing at 71%.
The study takes “unbanked” to mean any individual who does not have access to the services of a bank, or other similar financial institutions. By this metric, approximately 26.2 million Moroccans do not currently have access to a bank account.
Other countries with extremely high numbers of unbanked citizens are Vietnam (69%), Egypt at 67%, the Philippines at 66%, and Mexico at 63%. All the ten countries with the highest unbanked populations have at least half of their population without access to a banking institution.
With 100% of their citizens saying they have a bank account, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden are the global leaders in terms of “banked populations.”
Global Finance notes that most of the unbanked population across the world share similar traits. The key signifiers are “low income and less educated, they often lack the identification and documentation requirements to open a bank account, [and ]they tend to live in rural areas far from bank branches.”
In a speech in October 2019, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI urged the banks and financial institutions to play “a greater role” in the country’s development. The King specifically referred to “simplifying and facilitating access to loans…. and financing the creation of small and medium sized enterprises.”
Recent research on financial inclusivity by the Philippines’ central bank showed that 45% of unbanked Filippinos cited the lack of finances as their main reason for not having a bank account.
While incorporating banks into the country’s development is important, a major obstacle to overcome for the unbanked population is financial instability.