The 13 developing countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have a population of about 345.4 million people, of which around 12% live below the USD 2 per day poverty level. MENA is recognized for its large population of youth: 30% of the population is 14 years old or younger. The region also has the highest unemployment rate for youth aged 15 to 24 at 24%. Opportunities to expand financial inclusion in the region are significant, particularly among women and the poor.
The 2014 Global Findex report included only six countries from the region: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen. It found that the region has increased bank account ownership to 14% of adults, up from 11% in 2011. Men are as twice as likely to have an account than women, and 7% of adults in the poorest 40% of households have an account compared to 19% in the richest 60%. Only 15% of unbanked adults cite religion as a reason for not having an account. More than 85 million adults in the region remain unbanked, but digitizing private sector wages could help cut that number by 6 million (or 7%).