Edited by Michael A. Crew and Paul R. Kleindorfer
Chapter 23: Financial Inclusion and Postal Banking: Is the Survival of Posts Also There?
23. Financial inclusion and postal banking: is the survival of posts also there?* José Ansón† and Joëlle Toledano‡ 1 INTRODUCTION Currently, more than 2 billion adults remain unbanked, mostly in developing and emerging countries, although underbanked citizens are also a concern in more advanced economies. Have Posts also started – among other new players – to bridge this financial access divide that often exists between better and less well-off populations and seize this opportunity to diversify their business? Our chapter suggests that this has become the case in an increasing number of developing and emerging countries. Out of 1.5 billion users of postal financial services in the world, 400 million are holders of a postal (bank) account, 300 million of which are located in developing or emerging countries. There, Posts are following a development path in postal finance historically initiated by some postal operators in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. More generally, this trend of so-called ‘financial inclusion’ of unserved and underserved populations in emerging economies has become a central building block of modern development economics. The incentives to identify new levers of growth are powerful for Posts in an environment where structural declines in mail volumes have weakened the economic viability of traditional postal business models. The recent global economic and financial crisis (2007–09) has further exacerbated these negative prospects, with some postal operators losing up to 20 percent of their mail traffic during this two-year economic downturn, and others forecasting losses of 30 percent over the...
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