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Financial inclusion is a global concern. It feels very much like it should be the work of the global development organisations and governments. And it very much is.

However, financial inclusion can’t be fully achieved without the support of the private sector, be that the fintech sector in providing innovative payment solutions or those businesses that employ the unbanked or underserved communities.

So what is financial inclusion and how is it measured?

Financial inclusion means that all individuals and businesses – regardless of location, nationality, education, gender, or income – have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs such as  – payment services, savings, credit and insurance.

The World Bank Group states that “the first step to financial inclusion is access to a basic transaction account. At the fundamental level, this allows individuals to store, send, and receive payments.

With access to a basic account, people can then use it as a stepping stone to save and access additional services like credit and insurance products. They can also generate funding for new businesses, make investments, and save for the future.”

That’s why the first measure of financial inclusion is access to financial services, the second is usage and the third is quality.

Financial inclusion is measured in three dimensions: (i) access to financial services; (ii) usage of financial services; and (iii) the quality of the products and the service delivery. Let’s look at each in turn.

In measuring financial inclusion of individuals at a country level, key indicators would include:


  • Number of branches per 100,000 adults
  • Number of ATMs per 1000sq. km
  • Number of POS terminals per 100,000
  • Number of digital accounts for mobile payments


  • % of adults with an account at a formal financial institution
  • % of adults with a loan from a regulated financial institution
  • Number of insurance policy holders per 1,000 adults
  • Number or retail cashless transactions per capita
  • % of adults that use their mobile device to make a payment
  • % of adults with high frequency use of formal account
  • % of adults who saved at a financial institution in the past year
  • % of adults receiving domestic and international remittances


  • Financial knowledge score about basic financial concepts such as inflation, interest rate, purpose of insurance
  • Financial behaviour response to question about the source of emergency funding whether that would be borrow from friends, or from a bank, work more, sell assets, use savings or would not be able to find it
  • Compliance with ‘Disclosure requirements’ such as total rate to be paid for credit
  • Regulation setting standards for ‘Dispute resolution’
  • Average cost of opening and maintaining a basic current account
  • Average cost of remittances and credit transfers

*Source: G20 Financial Inclusion Indicators

With migrant workers making up over 80% of the population in the UAE, private sector employers are in a key position of influence. With more and more businesses understanding the business benefits of employee health and well-being, as well as the importance of good ESG credentials to consumers, customers and investors alike – there is no better time than now to start driving the financial inclusion of your people.

How is financial inclusion measured at an employer level?

There is no one size fits all answer to this question. Just like other ESG credentials, it depends on what is ‘material’ to your business.

For example if you employ a large amount of low-income migrant workers who don’t have a bank account-  and may not be eligible for a traditional bank account – access to a payments account would be a key priority to measure progress.

Access measure:  

  •  % of employees with a digital payments account.

NOW Money has been partnering with responsible employers across the UAE to provide underbanked migrant workers with access to inclusive and accessible mobile bank accounts. We provide a fully WPS compliant payroll solution that enables employers to pay their workers directly into their own mobile bank account developed specifically for this group.

Account holders get a VISA debit card which they can use at ATMs, online or in store. They can use their app to view their balance, track their spend and send money back home to family. NOW Money can provide employers with anonymised and privacy safe data to support usage measures.

Usage measures:

  • % of employees who use VISA debit card in retail outlets.
  • % of employees that use their mobile device to make a payment.
  • % of employees that use their mobile bank account frequently.

NOW Money was born out of a mission to drive financial inclusion. We ensure any remittance fees are not only the best in the market, but well below the UN target of 3%. Our award-winning mobile bank app is available in 11 languages and we have a dedicated customer care team on a toll-free number that can provide support in 6 languages. In addition, NOW Money’s team provide crucial financial and digital literacy training to supporting the quality measures of financial inclusion.

Quality measures:

  • Number of financial literacy trainings held and % employee attendance.
  • Employee financial knowledge survey completion rate and average score.
  • Employee responses to question about the main source of emergency funding.

Why financial inclusion should matter to employers?

Lack of access to affordable financial services and persistent money worries means that it is very difficult to break out of the cycle of poverty.  Financial worries are one of the main causes of stress among workers, causing reduction in productivity through absenteeism, presenteeism and impacting company culture.

Financial inclusion provides everyone with the access, knowledge and capability to use financial services, improving their money management and overall financial well-being.

We know it’s good for employees, read our blog to find out why employee financial well-being is good for business.

Are you ready for a better way to pay your employees?

Find out how NOW Money can add value to your business with flexible payroll and inclusive employee banking solutions.

Arrange a quick call with our team to see how NOW Money can work for you.

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