World Economy Brief
Author SEO Eunsook and YOO Kyeongwon Series APEC Study Series 20-03 Language English Date 2020.12.30
Since the 2008 global financial crisis, including the recent COVID 19 pandemic, low interest rates and low economic growth have continued around the world. In spite of this low interest rate trend, as the economic downturn prolongs, there is a situation of concern called the “new normal” of low interest rates and low economic growth, and low prices. In this new normal economic structure, the rapid progress of aging is increasing the necessity and desire for asset accumulation. In addition, digital finance such as Fin-tech with the evolution of the underlying technologies and the emergence of new technologies has replaced or improved many functions of existing finance in the advent of the 4th industrial revolution era.
These changes are expected to bring benefits to the individual and corporate finance sectors, which have been subject to financial inclusion. On the other hand, digital finance, which is changing at such a rapid pace, may further isolate some individuals who were in the blind spot of finance, such as the elderly, and a support system for this is an issue that should be included in the policy of financial inclusion in each country.
In this paper we find that Asian countries like other regions have achieved tangible results in financial inclusion while achieving financial deepening. When looking through various financial inclusion indicators such as holding accounts and loans, ATMs, and bank branches, the Asian region has achieved similar or superior performance to other regions. Compared to the income level, the growth of financial inclusion in Asia was found to be attributable to better performance in middle-income countries than in other similar regions. High-income countries in Asia are performing somewhat lower than similar peer groups in other regions, but this seems to be due to stagnation of growth. More seriously, financial inclusion in low-income countries in Asia is not appearing faster than in other income groups.
In Asian countries there appears to be a wide variation in regional financial inclusion. However, Asian countries are expanding around the younger generation in the use of ICT technology that is helpful in spreading financial inclusion so if digital inclusive finance centered on Fintech is properly applied, Asian countries will become a new model for digital financial inclusion. However, since the gap in the use of Fintech in the region is large, how to fill this gap is being raised as an important policy task for each country as well as the whole region.
We also tentatively examined the effects of financial inclusion and digital financial inclusion in the Asian region using the Asian country panel data collected from WDI and Global Findex data. Looking at the implications of the empirical analysis results even though it is very cautious to interpret the results of this analysis due to the lack of data of inclusive finance in Asia., first, the expansion of financial inclusion(such as ATM) in Asia seems to have some relationship with the reduction of poverty rates and income inequality which is measured with Gini coefficient. And the expansion of internet usage in Asia seems to have some relationship with the reduction of poverty rates and income inequality although we use it as the proxy variables instead of the digital financial inclusion variables. Lastly, the higher share of rural population which is used as a proxy for digital divide, which may occur due to the expansion of digital inclusive finance in Asia, has the potential to erode some of these achievements, but there is still a possibility that the expansion of inclusive finance will be effective.
Despite the likelihood of success in digital inclusive finance in the future, digital divide spreads due to various gaps such as between urban and rural areas, between young and old, between low and high income, and between men and women, occurring in Asian countries and may worsen the performance of inclusive finance. Thus the governments in the region need to actively intervene to resolve these gaps. In addition, it is necessary to close the digital gaps that is occurring between countries through policy cooperation among APEC members.
Considering the situation that the degree of development of Fintech in each member is expanding financial inclusion, it is necessary for Korean financial companies to set up an advancement strategy that focuses on the financially marginalized class based on the advanced system strategy of credit rating based on big data.
Our analysis results will give some implications for the New Southern Policy. Personal and SME finance are very important business areas when financial companies currently enter the ASEAN region, and accurate analysis of each member' current status for Fintech or digital finance and financial inclusion should be given priority in terms of business expansion.
Keywords: Fintech, Digital Finance, Financial Inclusion, Comparative Studies of Countries
JEL Classification: O33, G19, G20, I31, O57
II. Progress of Financial Inclusion
1. Achievements of Financial Inclusion
2. Limitations of Financial Inclusion and Advent of Digital Inclusive Finance
III. Fintech and Digital Financial Inclusion
1. Definition of Fintech and Digital Economy
2. The Impact of Fintech Development on Personal and Corporate Finance
3. The Benefits and Costs of Fintech and Digital Financial Inclusion
IV. Promotion of Digital Financial Inclusion in Asia
1. Digital Financial Inclusion in Asian Countries
2. Tentative Empirical Results on the Effects of Financial Inclusion
3. Main Implications
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