World Bank reports the majority of the global population adopted digital payments due to pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has driven a “global surge” in digital payments, with two-thirds of adults worldwide now making and receiving digital payments

digital payments


The World Bank’s Global Findex 2021 database shows that the number of people using digital payments rose from 35% in 2014 to 57% in 2021 in developing economies and from 88% in 2014 to 95% in 2021 in high-income economies. 

Over 40% of adults in developing economies other than China made commercial payments using a payment card, mobile phone or the internet for the first time due to the pandemic. Over 30% of the same population first made the utility payment by digital means in this period.

The growth in digital payments goes alongside an increase in account ownership. About 76% of adults globally now have an account at a bank, another financial institution, or mobile money provider. Five years ago, 68% of adults had a formal bank account, while in 2011, only 51% of the global population were account-owners. 

In addition to the pandemic impact, the research identifies “receiving digital payments such as a wage payment, a government transfer or a domestic remittance” as a powerful driver in the uptake of digital payments and other financial services. Most people quickly transitted from using bank accounts for purchases to other features. Almost two-thirds of payment recipients used their account to store money, about 40% to save and about 40% to borrow money.  

The World Bank research also reveals some regional differences. Thus, Sub-Saharan Africa displays an exceptional growth in mobile money accounts. One-third of adults now have one, compared with the 10% global average. 82% of adults in China make digital merchant payments, compared with 23% in the rest of East Asia and the Pacific. 


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Nina Bobro

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Nina is passionate about financial technologies and environmental issues, reporting on the industry news and the most exciting projects that build their offerings around the intersection of fintech and sustainability.