Initiatives aimed at mitigating the risk of financial exclusion


The Banco de España recently published an overview of the different public and private initiatives, both domestic and international, aimed at mitigating the risk of financial exclusion for certain demographic groups that, on account of age, digital literacy or geographical location (rural areas), might struggle to access certain financial services.

The authors found that the initiatives varied in nature across the countries depending on the specific characteristics of each financial system, the spatial distribution of the population across the territory and local habits and preferences. For instance, there are significant differences in the number of bank branches per thousand inhabitants across Europe: in 2021, the figure for Spain stood at 0.41, considerably higher than for countries like Sweden (0.14), Finland (0.14) and the United Kingdom (0.10), or the euro area as a whole (0.33).

With these idiosyncrasies in mind, the main conclusions drawn from the comparison of measures in Spain and other European countries are as follows:

  • In the private sector, notable initiatives include the joint cash infrastructure (shared by several banks) rolled out in several European countries, albeit comparatively less extensively in Spain.
  • As for public-private initiatives, both in Spain and elsewhere in Europe partnerships have been set up between banks and national postal services, whose post offices have an extensive regional presence.
  • In the public sphere, most initiatives relate to support for the installation of rural ATMs. As for legislation, the only country to require a minimum level of cash services by law is Sweden, where cash use is so low as to threaten the viability of cash infrastructure.

Regarding the initiatives implemented in Spain in 2022, the paper notes the following:

  • The country’s various banking associations (AEB, CECA and UNACC) made a commitment to improve in-branch services by extending opening hours and setting up priority channels, with a view to fostering the financial inclusion of the elderly and the disabled.
  • In rural areas, the associations undertook to offer core banking services, guaranteeing access to cash via branches, ATMs, mobile branches, financial agents, post offices and other solutions, such as cashback and financial services provided by rural postal workers, depending on the specific characteristics of the municipality in question.

For further information, see Occasional Paper 2305. Un repaso de las diversas iniciativas desplegadas a nivel nacional e internacional para hacer frente a los riesgos de exclusión financiera (in Spanish only). The paper can be found in the Economic analysis and research section of the Banco de España website, or via the following link:

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