Three in four Europeans do not agree Europe is most inclusive region in the world

Equal access to financial and digital products seen as vital to open and inclusive society, but a ‘Money Ceiling’ exists, acting as a barrier to inclusion.

Fewer than half of Europeans (49%) believe there is a high level of financial inclusion in their country. In fact, as many as 78% do not agree that Europe is the most financially inclusive region in the world. Similarly for digital inclusion, just a quarter of Europeans (24%) believe their region is the most digitally inclusive region in the world, according to new MasterCard research[1] on perceptions of inclusion in Europe.

 The findings revealed that financial and digital inclusion are seen to go hand in hand, with respondents believing them to be equally important to society. However, the vast majority of Europeans (83%) believe men have a higher degree of financial and digital inclusion than women.

 88% also say equal opportunities for Europeans in terms of access to financial and digital products, irrespective of gender, are vital for an open and inclusive society, but only 66% agree they have equal access themselves.

 When asked how they’d feel if they didn’t or couldn’t have access to financial or digital products, the predominant emotion expressed was frustration.

 Commenting on the findings, Ann Cairns, President International Markets for MasterCard, said: “Financial, digital and gender inclusion are intrinsically linked. Going hand in hand, these elements are critical to living a free, fair and full life, and Europeans agree. However, despite being one of the most developed regions in the world, it is clear more needs to be done to close the gaps in inclusion, with Europeans believing significant numbers in society are still excluded. In effect, a ‘money ceiling’ exists, acting as a barrier to inclusion and impeding universal access.”

 Across Europe, 47% on average believe access to better education on both financial and digital products would help drive inclusion. Two out of every three people (67%) believe it falls to national governments to take responsibility for improving financial inclusion. The same can be said of digital.

 Ann Cairns concluded: “An EU mandate entitles every citizen to a basic payment account, and the World Bank and G20 have set a goal of universal financial access by 2020. However, when considered that only around a quarter of Europeans believe that Europe is the most financially and digitally inclusive region in the world and gender exclusion remains an issue too, improving inclusion across the region must remain a high priority if we are to achieve a truly open and inclusive society.”

 About the Research

 MasterCard conducted an online survey among 10,021 consumers in 10 markets across Europe. Interviewing for these surveys took place between May 5 and 18, 2016. The margin of error for this study is +/- 1.0 percent at the total level, and +/- 3.1 percent at the market level. The survey was administered by Norstat, a global research and survey company.

[1] Norstat research, May 2016