Mastercard on why 138.6 million Europeans were still financially excluded in 2016

Jun 21, 2017


The road to financial inclusion is, according to Mastercard, a digital one. This does not mean a move away from cash as cash is inclusive to all. This refers to the problems that alternative payment giants face when large groups cannot access banking services which are integral to leading a country's standard quality of life. With 138.6 million people unbanked in Europe alone (as noted in 2016), the financial gap has now become social gap, Mastercard reports. 

Financial Inclusion vs Financial Exclusion
What is financial inclusion/exclusion, you ponder? Glad you asked. In the general sense, financial exclusion is the inability of individuals, households or groups to access financial services in an appropriate form. Thus, financial inclusion is their ability to access financial services. However, over the past 30 years alone, those services have changed drastically in some regions as they take on digital and electronic alternatives. Some debate has existed surrounding the terms but for the sake of clarity, we can refer to it in the context of the region in question's present financial services. 

Note: Despite current events adding to expectations of this group to be predominantly migrants, the reality is that this assumption couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, '87% of the financially excluded people surveyed have lived in the same country their whole lives.' 


About this report
'About this report Financial exclusion defines those who are currently not able, or not willing, to fully participate in the banking services offered in their country. According to the World Bank, there are currently 138.6m people in this situation in Europe alone. This report revisits and expands upon the initial findings of Mastercard’s 2013 ‘Road to Inclusion’ research, conducted with the support of Ipsos MORI, whereupon the causes and effects of financial exclusion were explored using both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Mastercard was interested in further uncovering the reasons for financial exclusion, and what can be done to overcome them. The research focused on those without any access to formal banking services, and those who are financially underserved (i.e those who have some degree of bank account, but no access to any form of electronic payment method). These categorisations combine to form the financially excluded.'

Social implications of cash
'The amount of those who pay their rent or mortgage (38 percent) and utilities (54 percent) with cash may have decreased from 2013 to 2016, but a significant portion of this demographic continue to rely on physical payment for their living costs. 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. Unfortunately, both of these reasons do not demonstrate that the reduction in cash payments is improving the quality of life for the financially excluded but instead highlights the other social implications they face as a result of financial exclusion...'

'The financially excluded in Italy were the most likely to state that having reduced or no access to a full bank account made them feel liberated (39 percent); however, as stated previously, they also rely heavily on others to make their housing and living payments for them, which can be frustrating and limiting in itself...'

'Cash remains a primary payment method...'
"Philipp BruchertCommunicationMastercard: Key Learning Report

Download full study here


Bruchert, Philipp. 5 December 2016. 'The Road to Financial Inclusion: Mastercard Financial Inclusion Survey'. Mastercard: Key Learning Report. Accessed 30 May 2017. PDF.

About the Research
'Mastercard conducted a face-to-face survey among 635 respondents in 6 markets (UK, Poland, Italy, Russia, France and Spain) across Europe. Interviewing for these surveys took place between 18th July and 10th August 2016. The margin of error for this study is +/- 3.0 percent at the total level, and +/-6.0 percent at the market level. The survey was administered by Ipsos, a global research and survey company.'

About Mastercard
'Mastercard (NYSE: MA),, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, travelling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MastercardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.'

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Last Updated: Oct 12, 2017