Broad-based and inclusive financial systems significantly raise growth, alleviate poverty, and expand economic opportunity. Households, small enterprises, and the rural poor often have difficulty obtaining financial services for a multitude of reasons, including transaction costs, perceived risk, inadequate infrastructure, and information barriers. Yet many financial institutions are now making profitable inroads into underserved markets through formal banking, investment in equities, venture capital, postal banks, and microfinance. Access to Finance addresses the challenges of making financial systems more inclusive, emulating successful ventures in new markets, and utilizing technologies and government policies to support the expansion of financial access. The contributors examine many dimensions of financial access, including: • Measuring financial access • Understanding the impact of expanded access • Examining alternative institutional models • Exploring new technologies and information infrastructure • Evaluating government policies toward outreach.
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