Living without banks: The unbanked people of China

11.4%: the share of adults in China who did not have an active bank account by 2018.
Having access to the banking system is a key indicator of financial inclusion. The World Bank views access to bank accounts as crucial for escaping poverty because it helps people prepare for emergencies, start businesses, and pay for education or health care services.
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In China, an account is also needed to use the mobile payment services that are rapidly replacing cash in many parts of the country.
Although the expansion of mobile phone use has made it easier for people in rural China to use banking services, inequality remains stark.
Around 88.6% of adults had an account that was active in the past six months, according to the latest central bank data from 2018. The average person in China has seven or more accounts.
This disparity highlights the difficulties faced by the country’s low-income population in climbing up the social ladder.
Globally, 1.7 billion adults, or 31% of the total adult population, were “unbanked,” as the World Bank described in 2017, meaning they had no access to a bank account or mobile money service provider.
At the time, China had 225 million adults without an account, the world’s largest total. It was followed by India (190 million), Pakistan (100 million) and Indonesia (95 million.)
They typically include the poorest and least educated sections of society, according to the World Bank. A majority of them are women.
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