The Philippines remains near the top of an annual scorecard measuring how countries are advancing financial and digital inclusion, US-based Brookings Institution said.
The research firm’s 2017 Financial and Digital Inclusion Project Report gave the country an overall score of 76 percent in an evaluation of how underserved people get access to and use affordable financial services.
The latest report covered 26 geographically, politically and economically diverse countries.
While the Philippines’ performance did not improve from a year ago, Brookings said the country scored the highest overall among the Asian countries covered.
“Countries in Asia were also represented near the top of the scorecard, with the Philippines scoring only two percentage points behind Colombia, South Africa, and Uganda,” the report noted.
Surpassing the Philippines were Kenya, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, South Africa, and Uganda.
Brookings attributed Philippines’ overall score to its commitment to the 2011 Maya Declaration on financial inclusion, which was issued by regulators from developing nations during a meeting in Mexico.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), which has tagged financial inclusion as a priority, was one of the first adopters of the Maya Declaration.
Brookings noted Philippine highlights such as the launch of a national financial inclusion strategy in July 2015 and the institution of the National Retail Payment System Framework the same year.
Moving forward, it said the country needed operationalize recommendations regarding the findings of a 2014 consumer finance survey, which generated data on household financial conditions including what they own as well as from whom and how much they borrow.
The country also needs to leverage the findings of the BSP’s 2015 Financial Inclusion Initiatives report as well as the National Baseline Survey on Financial Inclusion and other studies to identify underserved customers and target financial inclusion initiatives, Brookings added.