The Digital Financial Inclusion Index: A Cross-Country ComparisonTuğba Güz, Gülden Poyraz
The increasing impact of digitalization on the financial system and widespread use of technological devices such as smartphones that facilitate participation and access to the financial system in almost every segment of society have been this study’s motivating factor for creating a Digital Financial Inclusion Index (DFII). By following the methodology the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development used to create a combined index, the study examines the DFI levels and developments of 75 countries whose data can be accessed over a DFII calculated for the years 2017 and 2021 in comparison with current data. Within three years, the index values of the countries included in the DFII are seen to have increased or remained the same. High-income countries are seen to rank at the top of the DFII while the less developed countries with low income levels are found at the bottom. In addition, in order to compare the DFII values of the 75 countries covered in the index according to their income levels, the study divided the countries into four groups based on the World Bank income group classifications of high-income, upper-middle-income, lower-middle-income, and low-income brackets. Within three years, no significant difference was seen to have occurred between the average index values of countries in each income group, with very small increases occurring in their index values. In this process, lower-middle income countries increased their average DFII values by a very small margin of 0.02 compared to the high-income countries and of 0.01 compared to the upper-middle-income countries.
Dijital Finansal Kapsayıcılık Endeksi: Ülkeler Arası Bir KarşılaştırmaTuğba Güz, Gülden Poyraz
Dijitalleşmenin finansal sistem üzerinde giderek artan etkisi ve toplumun hemen her kesiminin finansal sisteme katılımını ve erişimini kolaylaştıran akıllı telefonlar gibi teknolojik cihazların oldukça yaygın kullanımı, bu çalışmada Dijital Finansal Kapsayıcılık Endeksini (DFKE) oluşturmak ve ülkeler arasında karşılaştırma yapmak için motivasyon unsuru olmuştur. Çalışmada, OECD’nin birleşik endeks oluşturmak için kullandığı metodoloji takip edilerek, 2017 ve 2021 yılları için hesapladığımız DFKE üzerinden, verilerine ulaşılabilen 75 ülkenin DFK düzeyleri ve gelişimleri güncel veriler ile karşılaştırmalı olarak incelenmiştir. Genel olarak üç yıl içinde, DFKE’ye dahil olan tüm ülkelerin endeks değerlerinde bir artış olduğu veya ülkelerin endeks değerini koruduğu görülmüştür. Ele alınan yıllar arasında, DFKE’nin üst sıralarında yüksek gelir seviyesine sahip ülkeler yer alırken; alt sıralarda genellikle düşük gelir seviyelerine sahip az gelişmiş ülkeler yer almaktadır. Çalışmada ayrıca, endeks’de ele alınan 75 ülkenin DFKE değerlerini gelir düzeylerine göre karşılaştırmak amacıyla ülkeler, Dünya Bankası gelir grubu sınıflandırılması baz alınarak; yüksek gelir, üst-orta gelir, orta gelir ve altındaki ve alt gelir grubundaki ülkeler olmak üzere dört gruba ayrılmıştır. Üç yıl içinde, tüm gelir gruplarındaki ülkelerin ortalama endeks değerleri arasında önemli bir fark olmadığı ve endeks değerlerinde çok küçük bir artış olduğu görülmüştür. Bu süreçte, orta gelir grubu ve altındaki ülkelerin ortalama DFKE değerlerini, yüksek gelir grubundaki ülkelere göre 0.02, üst-orta gelir grubundaki ülkelere göre ise 0.01 gibi çok küçük bir farkla yükselttikleri görülmüştür.
The increasing impact of digitalization on the financial system and the widespread use of technological devices such as smartphones that facilitate participation and access to the financial system in almost every segment of society have been this study’s motivating factor for creating a Digital Financial Inclusion Index (DFII). The study also aims to contribute to the literature on Digital Financial Inclusion (DFI) by providing data to studies that will examine the relationship between DFII and socio-economic variables or investigate the effects of cross-country the DFI levels with various methods. By following the methodology the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) used to create a combined index, the study examines the DFI levels and development of 75 countries whose data are accessible over a DFII calculated for the years 2017 and 2021 in comparison with current data. For this purpose, the study has attempted to take into account as many aspects of DFI as possible in order to create a comprehensive index. However, due to the presence of data constraints, especially in regard to DFI and the study’s aim of making cross-country comparisons, the study has included as many countries as possible and taken into account all the available indicators. In line with this, the study has calculated a 75-country DFII for the years 2017 and 2021.Within three years, the index values of each country included in the index were seen to have experienced an overall increase or to have remained the same. Among the years covered, high-income countries such as Korea, Switzerland, and Japan ranked at the top of the DFII. Korea, Switzerland, Japan, Malta, and Belgium were in the top five in the DFII rankings in 2017 and maintained their index values with minor changes over three years to remain in the top five in 2021. Because these countries are developed countries with high-income levels, that they should rank at the top of the index consistent with their income levels, technological infrastructure, and economic development is an expected result. Studies have demonstrated financial access to be generally higher in countries with high per capita income, which also support this result (Arora, 2010). In most of the developed countries, reasons such as financial services being digitalized, becoming electronic, or becoming virtualized and the rapid growth of electronic banking with regard to the Internet or Internet banking in recent years explain the high index ratings and ranking values of these countries compared to the others in the index. In general, less developed countries with lowincome levels ranked at the bottom of the DFII, such as Guinea, Pakistan, Malawi, and Nicaragua. Little change was seen to have occurred in these countries’ index values and rankings over the three years. These countries’ lack of access to finances, ease of use not being present in their financial systems, a lack of digital technologies, weak social aid, and high costs explain their low index values and lower ranking on the DFII. In order to compare the DFII values of the 75 countries covered in the index according to their income levels, the study additionally divided the countries into four groups based on the World Bank income group classifications of high-income countries, upper-middle-income countries, lowermiddle-income countries, and low-income countries. Over the three years, no significant difference was seen to have occurred among the average index values of the countries in terms of the different income groups, with only a very small increase occurring in countries’ index values regardless of income group. During this process, the lower-middle-income countries were seen to have increased their average DFII values by a very small margin of 0.02 compared to the high-income countries and of 0.01 compared to the upper-middleincome countries. The literature has shown the indices related to financial inclusion to generally focus on traditional financial services, with a few studies having taken into account the roles of digital finance and financial inclusion (e.g. Aziz and Naima, 2021; Shen, Hu, & Hueng, 2021). This study has compared and discussed in detail the current situation and development of 75 countries’ digital financial inclusion using the calculated index and is thought to contribute to the literature on digital financial inclusion indexes. In addition, a DFII can be used to compare different countries’ economic levels of financial inclusion as well as to monitor their progress over time regarding financial inclusion. Such an index could also be useful for future research to address empirical questions about the relationship between development and digital financial inclusion.