Financial Inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean

Working on the Canal, Mexico.
Photo by Damien Manspeaker, 2014 CGAP Photo Contest.

Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is making significant strides towards financial inclusion, according to the latest edition of the Global Findex from 2021. The World Bank database, which tracks financial inclusion worldwide, reveals that 73 percent of adults in Latin America and the Caribbean, excluding high-income economies, now have access to an account with a financial institution or mobile money provider, marking an impressive increase of 18.5 percentage points since 2017. This jump in account ownership is the largest of any developing region and places overall account ownership in LAC slightly above the developing economy average of 71 percent.

The adoption of digital financial transactions in the region is also slightly above the average for developing economies, with 40 percent of adults reporting to have made digital merchant payments in the past year. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital payments, with 34 percent of those who made a digital merchant payment, saying they did so for the first time after the onset of the pandemic.  

Gender gap in financial inclusion

Despite these advances in overall access to financial services, gender disparities persist in the region. Women are still less likely to have access to formal accounts, credit and savings products, with a 7-percentage-point gap in account ownership between men and women, higher than the average in developing economies which stands at 6 percentage points.

Financial resilience 

Financial resilience is important for people to be able to recover from unexpected financial shocks and unforeseen expenses. While many factors affect financial resilience, access to formal financial services, particularly formal savings, can contribute. Compared to other regions, LAC has the lowest share of adults who say they are able to access emergency funding reliably, with only 16 percent of adults able to access funds within 30 days without any difficulty, compared to the 27 percent average in developing economies. 

Moreover, the gender disparity in financial resilience is the highest in any region, highlighting the need for continued efforts to address the gender gap in financial inclusion. Women face more significant obstacles when it comes to accessing emergency money, with only 10 percent stating they could do so with no difficulty, compared to 22 percent of men. Nonetheless, the recent surge in account ownership and digital transactions demonstrates progress, and with sustained efforts, LAC can continue to advance toward greater financial inclusion and resilience.


Key Financial Inclusion Data

Account Ownership

Percent of adults age 15+ with an account at a financial institution or through a mobile money provider
Source: Global Findex Database

Gender Gap in Account Ownership since 2011

Percent of adults age 15+ with an account. Regional data excludes high-income economies.
Source: Global Findex Database

Use of Financial Services

Percent of adults age 15+. Regional data excludes high-income economies.
Source: Global Findex Database

Knowledge Resources by Country

Explore the knowledge resources we have available on the following countries in Latin America and the Caribbean:

Argentina Dominican Republic Mexico
Barbados Ecuador Nicaragua
Belize El Salvador Panama
Bolivia Guatemala Paraguay
Brazil Guyana Peru
Chile Haiti Suriname
Colombia Honduras Uruguay
Costa Rica Jamaica Venezuela
Learn about financial inclusion in other regions: 

East Asia & Pacific  |  Europe & Central Asia  |  Middle East & North Africa  |  North America  |  South Asia  |  Sub-Saharan Africa  |  Global