Financial Inclusion is perceived as a facilitator of various developmental goals set forth in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) 2030. Although attainment of financial inclusion may not be apparent in SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), providing people a seamless access to savings accounts, loans, insurance, and basic financial services is still an inherent (facilitating) element of the entire SDG exercise–since the roping of people in the banking ecosystem is definitely a prerequisite to the realisation of the developmental agendas.
In 8 of the 17 SDGs, financial inclusion is a sought after target. These targets comprise primarily of the following: i. SDG 1: eradicating poverty. ii. SDG 2: removing hunger, ensuring food security and promoting sustainable agriculture. iii. SDG 3: promoting health and wellbeing. iv. SDG 5: attaining gender equality and economic empowerment of women. v. SDG 8: promoting economic growth and jobs. vi. SDG 9: facilitating industry, innovation, and infrastructure development. vii. SDG 10: decreasing inequality. viii. SDG 17: toughening the implementation means via higher financial inclusion via higher savings’ mobilisation for investment and consumption to stimulate growth.
Apart from these, for the SDG 7: affordable and clean energy, the World Bank has also acknowledged financial inclusion as its essential enabling element. This is so because from the perspective of rural Indian communities, the primary features of financial inclusion: banking services’ access, credit accessibility, resourceful insurance systems and the indulgence of FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) benefits via modernised financial machinery, have a propensity to inculcate even the so far technologically incompetent to take up energy efficient techniques of production and consumption. Also, the existence of rural financial institutions also plays a crucial role in awareness of energy efficient campaigns.
Evidentially, financial inclusion models are proven to support holistic economic growth and facilitate the achievement of larger development goals. McKinsey Global Institute reports that digital finance has the potential to benefit billions of people by ensuring inclusive growth, adding $3.7 trillion to the GDP of emerging economies in a span of a decade. Financial inclusion has also been credited for developing balanced financial systems and economies, mobilising domestic resources by boosting national savings and multiplying government revenue. The financing models of UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) backs banks, cooperatives, microfinance institutions (MFIs), money transfer service providers and mobile network operators to broaden the extent of financial markets otherwise inaccessible.
UNCDF ensures that suitable financial products (savings, credit, insurance, payments, and remittances) are accessible to individuals, i.e. to the excluded and unbanked and underserved, micro, small, and medium enterprises, at a convenient cost, and that too sustainably. The crucial vitality of banking access can be gauged by the fact that without it or when no access to financial services is available, it gets difficult to receive remuneration for the work or to even transfer (pay) money for the services availed.
Research by Robin Burgess and Rohini Pande, “Do Rural Banks Matter? Evidence from the Indian Social Banking Experiment” suggests that, in India, a government initiative to setup banks in rural areas assisted considerably in cutting rural poverty by up to 17% points. Devising optimal financial inclusion frameworks and ensuring its realisation in curtailing corruption also is crucial to be acknowledged.