Releasing the findings of a new study this week, Mastercard argued that technology and digital solutions are key to improving access to financial services for those Europeans who are currently excluded from the system.
The survey looked into who the financially excluded are and why they are excluded from their countries’ financial services. It is a follow-up to findings from a similar survey the company conducted in 2013.
According to the findings, 88% of financially excluded Europeans pay for goods in cash, down from 89% in 2013. And 38% of the respondents paid their rent or mortgage in cash, a decrease from 44% in 2013.
“Of those who are turning away from cash, they could be relying more on prepaid methods or simply not have the funds to make these payments at all,” the report said.
While they are not participating in their respective banking systems, many of the financially excluded are readily accessing technology, the report found.
Almost half (49%) of respondents indicated that they had access to a smartphone, up from 29% three years ago. That number jumped to 80% among 18-24 year olds.
“For many people the concept of exclusion is often seen as a developing markets problem but today’s report shows clearly that this is as much of a problem in the perceived developed markets of Europe as it is around the world,” said Ann Cairns, President International for Mastercard, in a press release.
“Exclusion has a serious impact on a person’s quality of life, denying them basic benefits and choice including increased protection, convenience and access to the global economy. That the tools and technology are readily available to those who are in need of inclusion demonstrates that this is a solvable problem and one that partnership, education and innovation can easily solve.”
The report defined “financially excluded” as those who did not have access to banking services as well as those who may have had bank accounts but lacked access to electronic payment methods.
The research was conducted across six markets: the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Poland and Russia.