Chart of the Week May 21, 2021: Financial Account Ownership and Challenges in ASEAN


Financial inclusion is heterogeneous across Southeast Asia, reflecting the region’s diverse and multifaceted population. This week’s chart illustrates the account ownership rates across select Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states, as well as the challenges cited by the unbanked. The data is sourced from the Global Findex Database (2017), which is the world’s most comprehensive data set on how adults save, borrow, make payments, and manage risk. The data set is obtained from nationally representative surveys administered to more than 150,000 adults in over 140 economies. 


  • Singapore (97.9%) and upper-middle income countries (UMC) — Malaysia (85.3%) and Thailand (81.6%) — registered near-universal account ownership rates above the global average. 
  • Lower-middle income countries (LMC) — Cambodia (21.7%), Indonesia (48.9%), Lao PDR (29.1%), Myanmar (26.0%), Philippines (34.5%), and Vietnam (30.8%) — lagged both the global and LMC averages.  
  • Account penetration in most ASEAN LMCs range from 21% to 35%, indicating that at least two-thirds of the population lack access to basic financial services.  
  • Account ownership rates among women are close to or higher than their male counterparts in all LMCs, notably in Indonesia, Philippines, and Lao PDR. This contrasts with that of Singapore and UMCs, which reflect similar global trends favouring men. 
  • Insufficient funds to use financial institutions is the most cited response among those without a financial institution account in LMCs, while coming in at a close second in UMCs (respondents can choose more than one response). 
  • Shortage of money was cited by close to three quarters of all respondents in Lao PDR (78.2%), Myanmar (74.6%), Cambodia (72.5%), and Indonesia (72.1%), while also remaining prevalent in Vietnam (48.2%) as well as UMCs such as Malaysia (49.0%) and Thailand (56.8%). 
  • The presence of an account owned by another family member is the most cited barrier among those without an account in Malaysia (54.3%) and Thailand (58.8%), while over 1 in 5 unbanked people in Indonesia (29.2%), Philippines (28.0%), and Vietnam (22.6%) cited this reason as a barrier. 

Article By Wen Chong CHEAH

Graphic By Shu En LEE

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