Bankers' Perceptions of the Role of Technology in Addressing Financial Exclusion
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Financial inclusion is a measure of the ability of a population to make use of financial services. High rates of financial inclusion in a country are empirically correlated with high levels of economic development in that country; low rates of financial inclusion are correlated with low levels of development. Thus, policy makers are generally agreed that one method to increase economic development is to increase the level of financial inclusion. Not all attempts to increase financial inclusion are successful. Initiatives to improve financial inclusion can fail when policy makers or financial service providers have incorrect perceptions about financial inclusion. They may have incorrect perceptions about the purposes and beneficiaries of financial inclusion, or incorrect perceptions about how technology can encourage financial inclusion. This thesis investigates the perceptions of Pakistani bankers about financial inclusion in Pakistan. A survey of 125 Pakistani bankers was conducted. The results of the survey show that while bankers want to improve financial inclusion, they have perceptions that limit their effectiveness in reaching this goal. First, bankers’ perceptions of the actual financial inclusion levels in the country are higher than generally accepted empirical measures. Second, their perceptions about the reasons for financial exclusion are limited to socio-economic factors like low income and education of people. Finally, they have limited appreciation of the role that technology can play in elevating the level of financial inclusion. Bankers show more interest in customer-facing technology than in back-end technical infrastructure, thus limiting the scalability and interoperability of their systems. Our guidance to policy makers is to address these perceptual problems through education and through government-backed technical infrastructure programs, thus better enabling the banking industry to improve financial inclusion in Pakistan.