When Opportunity International was founded 50 years ago, most of the elements that define modern banking today were brand new ideas.
The world’s first ATM was installed in a London suburb in 1967.
In the United States, 51% of households had a credit card in 1970; today, 83% do.
And in developing economies, financial services and access to markets remained largely unavailable throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Women were nearly completely excluded from the limited financial sector that did exist.
In the last 50 years, the global financial landscape has changed dramatically. And while current statistics demonstrate the continued need for Opportunity International’s work, they also show just how far we’ve come in improving global financial access.
In 2011, only 51% of people had a bank account—today, 69% of people do. More people than ever have access to critical financial services that allow them to save money, protect their assets, and plan for purchases.
Over half of the world’s women now have control of the money they earn, giving them financial independence and equipping them to make needed purchases for themselves and their families.
In developing economies, the majority of men and women now have a mobile phone, giving them a simple, easy way to access financial services at their fingertips.
Men and women around the world are using the digital tools in their pockets to conduct financial transactions. This means that families who live in rural communities or far from brick-and-mortar banks have simple access to financial services—often for the first time.
Between 2014 and 2020, 240 million additional women opened accounts at a bank or through a mobile money service, giving them the freedom they need to grow their businesses and improve their financial security.
We have come a long way in 50 years, but there is still so much work to be done. Nearly two billion people still lack access to accounts, meaning they don’t have a safe, reliable way to protect their assets, conduct transactions, pay bills, or make financial plans for the future.
Opportunity has worked tirelessly over the past 50 years to improve financial inclusion and give families access to the services and tools they need to build sustainable livelihoods—and we have no plans of slowing down. Together, we are reaching even the most remote communities with financial resources, training, and support so that families can provide for themselves and break the cycle of poverty for good.