Figures issued by the World Bank show that 47 percent of Lebanese over the age of 15 had an individual or a joint account at a formal financial institution at the end of 2014, up from 37 percent at the end of 2011. The World Bank defines a formal financial institution as a commercial bank, credit union, cooperative, post office or microfinance institution.
Lebanon’s account penetration rate ranks in 78th place among 144 countries globally, in 27th place among 40 upper-middle income countries, and in third place among nine developing countries in the Middle East & North Africa region.
Globally, Lebanon’s bank account penetration rate is higher than that of Ecuador, Uruguay and Uganda, and lower than that of Argentina, Belize and Kosovo.
Lebanon’s bank account penetration is lower than the global penetration rate of 61.5 percent and the UMIC’s penetration rate of 70.5 percent, but is more than three times the MENA region’s penetration rate of 14.2 percent.
On a gender basis, 62.4 percent of Lebanese males and 33 percent of Lebanese females who are 15 years or older had an individual or a joint bank account at the end of 2014, relative to 49.4 percent and 26 percent, respectively, at the end of 2011.
The share of females in Lebanon with an account or a joint account is lower than the global and the UMICs’ averages of 58.1 percent and 67.3 percent respectively, but is more than three times the MENA region’s rate of 9.2 percent, as reported by Lebanon This Week, the economic publication of the Byblos Bank Group.
Similarly, Lebanese males’ bank account penetration rate is lower than the global rate of 65 percent and the UMICs’ rate of 73.6 percent, but is more than three times the MENA region’s rate of 19.2 percent.
In parallel, 4 percent of Lebanese over age 15 who have an account at a financial institution made a transaction from their account using a mobile phone in 2014.
Transactions include making payments, purchases and sending or receiving money.
The share of Lebanese who made a mobile phone transaction in 2014 was the 16th lowest among 128 countries globally, the eighth lowest among 37 UMICs and the second lowest among seven developing countries in the MENA region.
It was higher than Bulgaria (3.8 percent), Togo (3 percent) and Nicaragua (2.9 percent) and lower than Argentina and Angola (4.1 percent each) and Jamaica (4 percent). Also, it was higher than only Jordan (2.6 percent) in the region.
The share of Lebanese who made a financial transaction from their account using a mobile phone in 2014 was lower than the global average (15.8 percent), the UMICs’ average (16.2 percent), and the average of developing MENA countries (7.2 percent).
Overall, 1.8 percent of Lebanese who are 15 years or older made a financial transaction using a mobile phone. Also, 2.5 percent of Lebanese in the 15- to 24-year-old bracket used their accounts to make a transaction through their mobile phones, while 1.6 percent of Lebanese aged 25 and above utilized their accounts for the same reason.
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