WSBI brochure cover

WSBI Brochure 2022


Financial Inclusion




Financial Education: A high priority

ESBG organises regular events promoting financial education, including the global World Savings Day on 31 October each year, as well as sponsor the European Stock Market Learning initiative for youths to simulate investing in the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and learn how to invest wisely.
ESBG works to ensure that financial education is discussed at the EU level and included in EU legislative texts to ensure credit providers are required to ensure their customers understand the product which they are buying, and any associated risks.

World Savings Day 2022


Financial education is another high priority topic in ESBG. Members have long-running mandates to provide financial education not just to our members, but also to the communities in which they serve.

Joint letter to Commissioner McGuinness on the EFRAG consultation regarding its first set of draft ESRSs

Financial Inclusion

October 5, 2022

On 27 September, the ESBG, together with the European Banking Federation (EBF), the European Association of Co-operative Banks (EACB), Insurance Europe, Accountancy Europe, Business Europe and European Issuers, has submitted a joint industry letter to Commissioner Mairead McGuinness regarding the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) public consultation on its first set of draft European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS).

In the letter, ESBG strongly emphasized the necessity to phase-in the submission of the disclosure requirements from EFRAG to the Commission. In this respect, it is considered that EFRAG should deliver a limited set of crucial ESRS by November 2022. After this, EFRAG and the Commission should agree on a detailed plan to deliver the rest of the first set of standards and all the other deliverables required by the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). All these will constitute the minimum requirements to be delivered within the pre-set deadlines by the Commission.

Download the Joint Letter



ESBG Event

Promoting financial education among women and highlighting the need to focus a few more efforts in improving female financial literacy. This is the aim of the upcoming ESBG event “My World, My Knowledge, My Future: A Female Approach To Financial Education”.

Studies show that women are less likely to be financially literate than men – especially when it comes to investing. Men are statistically more likely to take risks, but also research their activities and understand what they are doing. A basis in financial education is key to our future success in saving, investing, and growing wealth in a safe environment – calculating the risk and understanding what could go wrong, or right.
Empowering consumers – in particular women, who are less engaged than men – with the knowledge to make sound financial decisions and build a better future is important in an era of low savings rates, pandemic recovery and an ever-changing digital world. Every day we find new challenges and face new risks, and we need to be armed with up-to-date information and simple knowledge how to navigate through the financial world.

Join us and be part of a pivotal debate on topics like :

• How can financial institutions raise awareness among women of the risks and responsibilities when investing?
• What can school curricula do to engage more girls in money topics?
• Where can financial institutions improve their financial education plans to appeal to a female audience?
• What can policy makers do to provide support when targeting this group?


Mairead McGuinness

EU Commissioner for Financial Services and
Capital Markets Union

Keynote Speaker

Petra Hielkema

Chairperson of the European Insurance and
Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) 


Dominique Goursolle Nouhaud

President ESBG and
National Federation of Savings Banks

Keynote Speaker

Verena Ross

Chairperson, European Securities and
Markets Autorithy ( ESMA)

Keynote Speaker

Ellen Bramness Arvidsson

Executive Director, Finance Norway


Magdalena Brier

Chief Executive Officer, Profuturo


Ann Cairns

Executive Vice Chair, Mastercard


Gabriele Semmelrock-Werzer

President, Austrian Savings Banks Association


Karolin Schriever

Executive Board Member, DSGV


Prof. Dr. Bettina Fuhrmann

Vienna University of Economics and Business


Weselina Angelow

Programme Director on


Michelle Schonenberger

Advisor at European Savings and Retail Banking Group – ESBG


Jacki Davis



Number of unbanked adult EU citizens more than halved in the last four years

Nevertheless, more than 13 million adults, or 4% of the adult population, face financial exclusion, according to an ESBG analysis of the Global Findex Database 2021, recently released by the World Bank.



BRUSSELS, 14 July 2022 – The number of unbanked citizens more than halved over the past four years, but more than 13 million adult EU citizens still lack access to formal financial services, with room for Europe’s savings and retail banks to continue contributing to financial inclusion.

The European Savings and Retail Banking Group (ESBG) conducted an analysis of the Global Findex Database 2021 recently released by the World Bank, and was pleased to find that the number of banked adults in the EU has climbed.

This significant improvement can be attributed to increased efforts from the banking industry, including notably the ESBG membership serving 162 million Europeans, as well as to an increased move towards digitalisation spurred by the pandemic.

“Financial inclusion is at the core of our members’ vocation and they put great efforts on serving individuals, families and SMEs, with a focus on leaving no one behind, which has surely contributed to the improvement of financial inclusion in the block”, said ESBG Managing Director, Peter Simon.

According to the World Bank Findex (which has no data for Luxembourg over 2021), 3,6 % of Europe’s population remain financially excluded, an improvement from the 8,2% reported in 2017. This percentage translates to some 13 million adult citizens being unbanked in 2021, down from close to 31 million in 2017.

Part of the remaining unbanked are probably less-digital savvy people and banks need to continue cater for that segment. Without any doubt, all the unbanked rely on cash to participate in the economy and therefore banks must play a responsible role regarding cash provision.

Looking at some European countries in detail, Romania suffers the highest no-account rate at 30,9%, while neighbour Bulgaria faces the second highest financial exclusion rate at 16%. Following them are Hungary (11,8%), Croatia (8,2%) and Portugal (7,4%). Compared to the 2017 data, Bulgaria showed nearly an 11 percentage points improvement from 2017 when they reported 27,8% of the population remained unbanked. The Czech Republic and Lithuania significantly improved their unbanked rates over the reported period, dropping out of the top 5 list of EU countries with the highest no-account rates, as Croatia and Portugal replaced the pair.

Best-in-class countries include Denmark, with hardly any unbanked people reported, followed by Germany (0,02% unbanked) and Austria (0,05%). These are followed by the Netherlands (0,3%) and Sweden (0,3%). Austria is the newcomer in this top 5, replacing Belgium. Nevertheless, Belgium, together with 10 other countries have more than 99% of their population participating in banking services.

Table: Financial inclusion in EU Member States, unbanked adults

(Sources and notes: Global Findex – 2021 data on Luxembourg is missing in Global Findex so has been omitted, analysis by WSBI-ESBG)

  2017 2021
Country Unbanked adults 15+ Relative share Unbanked adults 15+ Relative share
Austria 137.700 1,84% 3.761 0,05%
Belgium 128.041 1,36% 95.329 0,99%
Bulgaria 1.697.604 27,80% 947.642 16,03%
Croatia 494.946 13,86% 283.466 8,20%
Cyprus 109.767 11,28% 69.197 6,87%
Czech Republic 1.703.016 19,01% 456.366 5,06%
Denmark 3.947 0,08% 0 0,00%
Estonia 22.137 2,01% 6.929 0,62%
Finland 9.866 0,21% 21.861 0,47%
France 3.270.789 6,00% 419.374 0,76%
Germany 613.053 0,86% 16.765 0,02%
Greece 1.341.302 14,53% 473.335 5,12%
Hungary 2.105.537 25,06% 983.136 11,78%
Ireland 173.372 4,66% 13.310 0,34%
Italy 3.255.366 6,21% 1.401.949 2,71%
Latvia 112.583 6,78% 53.731 3,38%
Lithuania 419.049 17,12% 152.777 6,47%
Malta 10.302 2,64% 15.982 3,55%
Netherlands 51.485 0,36% 39.231 0,27%
Poland 4.292.591 13,27% 1.377.061 4,28%
Portugal 681.086 7,66% 658.625 7,35%
Romania 7.039.982 42,25% 5.031.950 30,88%
Slovak Republic 727.964 15,82% 201.923 4,38%
Slovenia 43.408 2,47% 16.937 0,95%
Spain 2.474.022 6,24% 689.696 1,70%
Sweden 21.133 0,26% 26.545 0,31%
Totals 30.940.048 8,20% 13.456.879 3,54%


Covid 19 WSBI Statement

United efforts indispensable to overcome crisis

We welcome both the decision to update the Supervisory Review and Evaluation Process (SREP) Guidelines and the overarching objectives to increase convergence of practices across the EU and to align with other relevant EBA Guidelines.

The financial industry faces an unprecedented challenge that may last for quite some time due to the coronavirus pandemic, states a letter for policymakers worldwide from savings and retail banking association WSBI. Signed by its President Isidro Fainé and Managing Director Chris De Noose, the letter says focus starts with saving as many lives as possible, eradicating the coronavirus pandemic and ensuring that the so-called “real economy” suffers as little as possible from vast Covid-19-caused economic damage.

Support measures done so far by governments can help SMEs, WSBI writes, expecially the the self-employed and individuals, as well as larger, heavily affected industries such as the services sector at large, in particular manufacturing, transport and tourism.

“Economic, financial, fiscal and social measures need to be designed and implemented straightaway, the letter states, adding “international cooperation is of utmost importance. The world needs to face the coronavirus crisis with decisive actions in a united and well-coordinated manner.”

Committed to people, communities, SMEs and beyond

Savings and retail banks fully commit to supporting their customers, the letter states, be it individual people, families, SMEs, institutions, young people, the elderly and society in general who live in urban as well as in rural areas. “We aim to figure out the best, sustainable solutions. Locally rooted savings and retail banks have a crucial stabilising function in times of crisis with their infrastructure, closer relationship with customers and continuous lending.” WSBI member banks help SMEs and other companies overcome liquidity bottlenecks and provide stability. “For this to succeed,” WSBI added, “everything possible should be done in regulatory and macroprudential terms to maintain the liquidity and credit supply.”

On firmer footing since crisis

Playing an essential part of the solution, savings and retail banks see major financial reforms during the past decade have made their banks safer, more stable and more resilient in the face of shocks. Facing the coronavirus on stronger footing, their inclusive and socially committed approach to banking remains vital and steadfast during challenging times like these, they note.

WSBI added: “Clients of savings and retail banks can continue to rely on their banks as partners that do their utmost to mitigate the effects of this critical situation. Now, more than ever, we will stand strong to provide confidence, comfort and trust when customers and communities need it most.”

Policy ideas to give banks enough flexibility

WSBI members welcome the measures already taken by authorities, and proposes ideas to give banks “enough flexibility to continue supporting their customers. Some steps already taken need additional guidance and extended scope to achieve their objectives.” They include:

  • temporarily relax the rules when it comes to capital and liquidity buffers
  • increase monitoring, develop contingency plans and provide additional support for the most hard-hit sectors – tourism, transportation and the hospitality industry – by easing the tax burden for certain much-affected firms in vulnerable regions.
  • a plan to recover economic activity and production of goods and services and to stimulate consumption to prevent the economy from recession.
  • public authorities should free up additional capital and provide loan guarantees
  • flexibility on the asset quality assessment of loans by supervisors when public moratoria on payments have been implemented. This would also strengthen banks in temporarily supporting solvent clients facing liquidity difficulties.

IFRS 9 accounting standard implementation for the recognition of loan loss provisions should take into account the disruptive Covid-19 crisis. It is crucial that banks are granted enough manoeuvring room to modify the payment schedule of the affected borrowers without affecting their accounting provisions nor their solvency; that is, avoiding the increase in non-performing assets that would derive from the current regulations.

​Global coordination, relief measures much needed

At national and regional level, much can be done through coordination among policymakers, keeping neighbors in mind. At a global level, need exists for G20 to prioritise global financial stability, a sustainable and swift recovery and a balanced development as common goals. The recent G7 leaders’ commitment to do ‘whatever is necessary’ to support the global economy, a very well received first step, but future decisions regarding interpretation, adjustments, and tailoring of regulations must be properly coordinated at global level via the Financial Stability Board, the Basel Committee, the International Organization of Securities Commissions and the International Association of Insurance Supervisors. The IMF has also underlined the need for global coordination in its recent paper on policy.

What happens next

WSBI suggests in its statement that regulatory authorities ask themselves if new regulatory requirements that are planned to be implemented in 2020-2022 are critical, or, if there is a possibility, that they can be delayed by 1-2 years, depending on how the crisis further develops. Even if only a part of the upcoming regulation could be delayed this would certainly help banks, and other players, to focus their resources on critical immediate action.

Once the emergency has been overcome and the situation is stable, it may be useful to carry out an impact assessment in order to see what measures should be taken to ensure that the global economy is still growing.


WSBI statement on Covid-19: united efforts to overcome the crisis are indispensable



Scale2Save marks World Savings Day 2021

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

To mark World Savings Day, October 31, we are sharing with you the stories from our programme partner Advans Côte d’Ivoire and from our learning partner Tanzania Commercial Bank on how they are working to improve the financial inclusion of low-income people in their countries.

Scale2Save marks World Savings Day
To mark World Savings Day, October 31, we are sharing with you the stories from our programme partner Advans Côte d’Ivoire and from our learning partner Tanzania Commercial Bank on how they are working to improve the financial inclusion of low-income people in their countries.

We thank all our partners for their generous response to our call for photos and stories to mark this occasion, and look forward to continue working together for financial inclusion.

The Scale2Save team

In the framework of the Scale2Save programme, Advans Côte d’Ivoire has developed an application called Customer Corner. This application is available from banking agents, a field team dedicated to agricultural producers. The opening of savings accounts is done by the banking agent from his smartphone. Once the savings account is opened, the producer can carry out transactions with his phone.

In addition, field agents assist our producer clients in the management of their savings accounts by visiting them and taking into account all their concerns. The producers are met periodically either individually or within their cooperatives.

As a result, small-holder farmers have access to savings accounts, and are supported in their financial education in order to strengthen their financial security. In October 2021, 80,000 producers were registered. Read the full story

Scale2Save learning partner, Tanzania Commercial Bank Plc (TCB), developed a digital tool for saving groups in the framework of the Savings at the Frontier (SatF) programme (Digitizing Informal Saving Mechanisms) and with support from the Mastercard Foundation. The new product, called M-KOBA, was launched in 2019.

Now, TCB is taking this product further by targeting Village Savings and Loans Associations, in partnership with NGO Plan International. Between August and October 2021 in Isanzu, Nyang’ingi, Sangabuye and Laela villages, savings group representatives met with TCB and Plan team to be trained on how to use M-KOBA, group loans application processes and life insurance. Read the full story


Single European Access Point for Financial and Non Financial Information

ESBG welcomes the opportunity to comment on the European Commission's proposal to establish a European Single Access Point (ESAP).

This tool was already listed as one of the sixteen actions to carry out in the framework of the Capital Markets Union. The ESAP has been designed as a very ambitious tool with the aim of collecting financial and non-financial information. ESBG members would like to highlight the need of taxonomies regarding non-financial information. Companies already make an important effort to comply with all reporting’s required at international and national level. Although the Commission mentions in the consultation document that ESAP is a voluntary tool, ESBG believes it is very important to emphasize this feature and in a first stage it should be configured as a voluntary tool.




Kenya member, WSBI sign MoU

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

Momentum continues under WSBI's Scale2Save programme as Kenya Post Office Savings Bank and WSBI signed today a Memorandum of Understanding for the innovation-driven postal savings bank to drive greater financial inclusion.

​​​​​​​​​​​Innovative ‘Bank in A Bag’ project to improve bank reach, add 5000 savings groups, some 67,000 customers​

>> Scale2Save programme​​

Updated: 21 November 2018 [Inserts Scale2Save programme branding]

BRUSSELS, 5 December 2017 – Momentum continues under WSBI’s Scale2Save programme as Kenya Post Office Savings Bank and WSBI signed today a Memorandum of Understanding for the innovation-driven postal savings bank to drive greater financial inclusion.

The Nairobi-based institution, also known as Postbank will take part in the Mastercard Foundation-supported program by launching a “Bank in A Bag” concept and deploying staff with it to where customers – both individuals and savings groups – meet. The Bank in A Bag contains needed record-keeping materials and ICT equipment such as a point-of-sale (POS) terminal, laptop computer, an Android tablet and a router. The equipment will enable end-to-end processing of account opening for individual customers in remote locations outside a traditional brick-and-mortar branch.

Anne W. Karanja, Managing Director, said: “Bank in A Bag lifts some of the barriers to access and usage of banking services in rural Kenya, especially distance and cost. Financial education will also play a big part in the work by WSBI and KPOSB, enabling the bank to execute a strategy to acquire, activate and retain savers.”

With the support of WSBI, Postbank will build on the newly developed and its already-piloted Mchama product, a mobile savings and payments service for village groups to deepen the reach, scale and sustainability of low balance accounts as well as address dormancy of accounts. They will continue to train 400 Postbank agents and continuous group financial literacy training programs. They will also continue to expand their pool of Community-Based Trainers, sales ambassadors who will support the recruitment and training of village groups.

A research component will round out the project, with the bank looking to better understand group savings and transactional behavior when using Mchama.

WSBI Managing Director Chris De Noose said: “It’s the second memorandum signed in the last two months by WSBI and partner banks in Africa to demonstrate the business case of small-scale savings. We look to assist Postbank in their aim to onboard 5,000 groups and 66,744 new accounts active by the project end date in 2020.”

Pilot preparation on the Bank in A Bag project starts this month with a scheduled January 2018 implementation start date.

​Notes to editors:

About Kenya Post Office Savings Bank

The Kenya Post Office Savings Bank (Postbank) is primarily engaged in the mobilization of savings for national development. Postbank is committed to creating business growth while ensuring that delivery of services is done in an ethical and socially responsible manner. The bank considers the interests of the community and strives to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct and corporate responsibility in service delivery. Corporate Social Responsibility is fundamental to its culture and core values, with focus placed on environment, health, financial Literacy and education. Wholly owned by the Government of Kenya and reports to the Ministry of Finance, Postbank is committed to the standards of corporate governance as set by the government and the Central Bank of Kenya for the public sector. Learn more


About the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute

WSBI represents the interests of 6,000 savings and retail banks globally, with total assets of $14tn and serving one billion customers in nearly 80 countries (as of 2014). WSBI focuses on international regulatory issues that affect the savings and retail banking industry. It supports the aims of the G20 in achieving sustainable, inclusive, and balanced growth, and job creation, whether in industrialised or less developed countries. WSBI favours an inclusive form of globalization that is just and fair, supporting international efforts to advance financial access and financial usage for everyone.


In focus: Customer centric banking

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

MOMBASA, 19 March 2019 –​ More than 40 banking experts from banks and organisations focused on Africa convened from 19-21 March to discuss how African banking can better address make small-scale savings work. The gathering brought experts for a three-day workshop to share learning as part of the Scale2Save programme – a partnership between WSBI and Mastercard Foundation to establish the viability of small-scale savings in Africa. 

​​​​​Scale2Save project experts convene in Mombasa for programme’s first peer review workshop

>> See the workshop event site 

>> Learn more about Scale2Save


>> Read Scale2Save 2019 report​

>> Read Scale2Save 2018 report​

​​Day 1 tackled the results of a new report by WSBI on savings and retail banking in Africa that shows the struggle banks face with customer centricity –​ the ability to provide people with products and services that they will take up and use based on need. The Scale2Save programme report pulls data from dozens of WSBI member banks on the continent on how banks are tackling how savings by people in the region can be made more usable, affordable, accessible and sustainable through better understanding what people want from their bank to spur savings activity at local level from cities to village and everywhere in between. Three panel session scheduled look at creating value through customer experience, making digital channels work for financial service providers as well as the business case for linkage banking, a way of connecting banks and people at grassroots level.

The event kicked off with opening remarks from Scale2Save Programme Director Ian Radcliffe (pictured left) presented results of the Scale2Save report. He was followed by PostBank of Kenya Managing Director Anne Karanja, who explained the importance of finding a viable way for savings to thrive. Following Mrs. Karanja’s remark​s, a first panel looked at customer centricity and how best to address the gap between what customer needs and what banks provide. A second panel explored digital aspects of savings, and how importance of knowing how the poor save, use and move money.  A third final panel took a deep dive into linkage banking, a way for banks to connect with savings mechanisms like village savings group

Day 2 took a first-hand look at how PostBank in Kenya is serving the poor in Ukunda County, with visits to agents and savings groups. Day 3 had breakout sessions on business models for savings groups and how best to manage third-party partnerships such as with Mobile Network Operators. 

The next Scale2Save Peer Review Workshop is scheduled for October in Washington.

>> See the workshop event site 

>> Learn more about Scale2Save

>> Learn about, read Scale2Save report​