IMF Unveils Online Financial Access Database

Press Release No. 10/270
June 30, 2010

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) today launched a new online database of results from its inaugural Financial Access Survey, designed to underpin research into the provision of consumer financial services worldwide. The database allows public access to financial access indicators and accompanying metadata developed through the Access to Finance Project with financial support from the government of the Netherlands.

“Access to financial services is widely recognized as an important factor in economic development,” said Adelheid Burgi-Schmelz, Director of the IMF’s Statistics Department, which conducted the survey. “This database will help researchers and policy-makers by broadening our understanding of the reach and impact of basic financial services provision around the world. As we add survey results year by year, the database will become an increasingly useful tool for everyone working in this field,” added Ms. Burgi-Schmelz.

The Project was unveiled jointly by Her Royal Highness Princess Máxima of the Netherlands, the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, and IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings in Istanbul in October 2009 (see Press Release No. 09/351).

The database disseminates key indicators of geographic and demographic outreach of financial services, as well as the underlying data. The reach of financial services is measured by bank branch network, availability of automated teller machines, and by four key financial instruments: deposits, loans, debt securities issued, and insurance. The database aims at supporting policymakers and researchers to strengthen their understanding of the determinants and implications of financial access and usage. The disseminated financial access indicators can help identify knowledge gaps and appropriate policies for broadening financial access, and enable the authorities to monitor the effectiveness of policies over time.

The Project’s periodic surveys make use of the IMF’s existing broad network of country correspondents for the IMF’s flagship statistical publication International Financial Statistics. The website contains annual data from about 140 respondents for a six-year period (2004–2009), including data for all G-20 countries. To foster the use of a common methodology in the survey data, the definitions, types of financial institutional units, and financial instruments covered are consistent with the IMF’s Monetary and Financial Statistics Manual and its accompanying Compilation Guide.

Most contributing countries have reported all survey data related to commercial banks, and several have supplied data related to other deposit-takers. However, data coverage for finance companies and insurance corporations is relatively modest in scale. Future Financial Access Surveys, which the IMF plans to carry out on an annual basis, will attempt to expand the data coverage. Based on the results and the experience gained from this year’s Financial Access Survey exercise, the survey questionnaire and the instructions will be fine tuned to ensure improved results and enhanced cross-country comparability in future years.



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