EIU Current Affairs - 2020

Global Microscope for Financial Inclusion report 2019: EIU

The 2019 edition of ‘Global Microscope: The enabling environment for Financial Inclusion’ report was released by Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU). The report is a benchmarking index that assesses enabling environment for financial access as well as underscores the evolving landscape of financial inclusion in selected countries. The year 2019 was 12th edition of report.

Key Highlights of Report

The overall environment for financial inclusion has improved worldwide. India, Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Uruguay now have the most favourable conditions for inclusive finance, with Colombia being ranked at first position followed by Peru, Uruguay and Mexico and India ranked 5th.

India was ranked among top countries with most promising environment for financial inclusion in terms of:  effective financial consumer , allowing non-banks to issue e-money and proportionate customer due diligence.

Only four countries namely India, Colombia, Jamaica and Uruguay scored perfectly across all four parameters. Moreover, India, South Africa, Tanzania, Mexico and Uruguay were among top countries that safeguard e-money via some sort of deposit insurance or protection.

About Global Microscope for Financial Inclusion report

It is produced by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the research and analysis division of The Economist Group. The EIU was created in 1946 and is the world leader in global business intelligence.

The Microscope report was first published in 2007 and was originally developed for countries in Latin American and Caribbean regions but in 2009 it was expanded into a global study. The 2019 edition of Global Microscope report also features 11 new gender focussed indicators that measure financial inclusion for both women as well as men.

The report is a benchmarking index that assesses enabling environment for financial access in 55 countries across 5 categories.

Five parameters across which countries are assessed-

(a)Government and Policy Support

(b)Products and Outlets

(c)Stability and Integrity

(d)Consumer Protection

(e)Infrastructure

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Inclusive Internet Index 2019

The Inclusive Internet Index 2019 was prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) for Facebook. The ‘Inclusive Internet’ score was based on the scores of availability, affordability, relevance and readiness categories.

The 2019 Index evaluated 100 countries, representing 94 per cent of the world’s population and 96 per cent of global GDP.

Findings of the Inclusive Internet Index 2019 Report

  • Sweden has topped the rankings followed by Singapore and the US.
  • India has been ranked 47th.
  • Men have more Internet access than women globally but low and lower middle income countries narrowed the gender gap in 2018.
  • The UK, Namibia, Ireland, Austria, Chile and South Africa are the top performers of the year in terms of gender equality. All these countries had female digital skills training plans.
  • The report notes that Inclusion for women and those with disabilities have improved, with low income and lower-middle-income countries driving the progress.
  • The report notes that the affordability is declining relative to monthly income in many countries. This is disproportionately affecting women and people in low-income countries who are more reliant on mobile as their primary means of accessing the Internet.
  • The percentage of households connected to the Internet globally increased, on average from 53.1 per cent to 54.8 per cent, the rate of growth in Internet connections slowed to 2.9 per cent in 2019 from 7.7 per cent in 2018.
  • Fixed-line Internet access is too expensive or inaccessible in some countries, as a result, mobile services are critical in these regions.
  • The lower-middle-income countries made a significant 66 per cent improvement in 4G coverage and low-income countries witnessed a moderate 22 per cent improvement.
  • Web accessibility standards have also improved. The improvements were led by low and lower middle income countries.
  • There are about 3.8 billion people around the world without fast and reliable Internet access.
  • Even though the overall gap between those with access to the Internet and those without narrowed, the lowest income countries fell behind because they improved at a slower rate than other countries and much slower than last year.
  • Internet connections in low-income countries increased by marginal 0.8 per cent compared to 65.1 per cent last year.
  • More than half (52.2 per cent) of respondents said they are not confident about their online privacy.
  • Majority of respondents (74.4 per cent) think the Internet has been the most effective tool for finding jobs

The report highlights that there are demonstrable benefits from comprehensive female e-inclusion policies, digital skills programmes and targets for women and girls to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

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