Banking services promote social inclusion

  • 2012-04-11
  • From wire reports

VILNIUS - Nine out of ten Lithuanian residents have bank accounts, while the majority of the rest do not have one, as they say they do not need one, says the Bank of Lithuania, reports ELTA.
The survey was commissioned by the Bank of Lithuania and conducted among the country’s residents and banks.
“The survey revealed a high penetration level of banking services in Lithuania. There are no social groups with restricted access to bank accounts or payment services. A small number of people do not hold bank accounts; they say they do not miss such services, and it does not cause them any discomfort,” Vaidievutis Geralavicius, a member of the Bank of Lithuania board, said, commenting on the survey results.

The survey was conducted by Spinter Tyrimai and was aimed at finding out the habits and priorities regarding the usage of bank accounts, cash, and payment cards by the country’s residents. Between Feb. 20 and 28, 1,008 respondents from all over the country were surveyed.

The survey showed that 91 percent of the respondents in the age group 18 to 75 years old had a bank account, while 2 percent of the respondents shared their account with another person. Seven percent of the respondents did not have a bank account, of which the majority (77 percent) said they did not have a need for one. Only one respondent reported that he had been refused a bank account by the bank because of a failure to submit documents.

High access to bank accounts was observed in social groups which were more likely to face financial exclusion. These are people with low income, including the unemployed, pensioners, and disabled individuals who live in rural areas. According to the survey, almost 88 percent of young people (18 to 25 years) and seniors (56 years and above) had a bank account, of which 87 percent were with unfinished secondary education and 86 percent with a monthly income of less than 1,000 litas (289 euros) after taxes. The same level (86 percent) was reported regarding the unemployed and people living in rural areas.

The Bank of Lithuania has looked into the possibility to use a basic payment account, taking into account the European Commission’s recommendation aimed at boosting financial and social inclusion. For this purpose a minimum basket of payment services has been defined. It includes access to a basic payment account and related payment services (depositing of cash to and withdrawing from the account, crediting of funds, initiating credit transfers, using direct debit operations, and access to Internet banking).

“Despite comparatively high financial inclusion in Lithuania, which has achieved de facto the aim pointed out in the European Commission’s recommendation, we continue to monitor closely the market of basic banking services and plan to conduct more surveys, focusing not only on the accessibility of banking services, but also cost-based price justification,” Geralavicius said.

To improve transparency in the banking services market a special section is available on the Web site of the Bank of Lithuania. For user convenience, it also contains standard fees for payment services generally provided to the country’s residents by banks, credit unions, and payment institutions, which are continuously updated. A possibility also exists to compare them and choose the cheapest service providers.