Greater supply of a wide range offinancial products and services

In most countries, growing numbers of consumers have now access to a wide range of financial products and services, from a variety of providers and delivered through various channels. Improved levels of financial inclusion in emerging economies, developments in technology and deregulation have resulted in widening access to retail financial products, from current accounts to remittances products, consumer revolving credit and equity portfolios. The products available are also becoming more complex, and individuals are required to make comparisons across a number of factors such as the fees charged, interest rates paid or received, length of contract and exposure to risk. They must also identify appropriate providers and delivery channels from the vast array of possibilities, including community groups, traditional financial institutions, online banks and mobile phone companies.

Increased demand for financial products and services

Economic and technological developments have also brought greater global connectedness and massive changes in communications and financial transactions, as well as in social interactions and consumer behaviour. Such changes have made it more important that individuals be able to interact with financial providers. In particular, consumers often need access to financial services (including banks and other providers such as Post Offices) in order to make and receive electronic payments like income, remittances and online transactions, as well as to conduct face-to-face transactions in societies where cash and cheques are no longer favoured. Those who cannot access such services often pay more for cash transactions, using informal financial services such as moneylenders or cheque cashers (Kempson, Collard, and Moore, 2005).

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