KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has improved its standing as a financially inclusive market as it rose two spots to 18th place out of 42 global markets in the 2023 Global Financial Inclusion Index by Principal Financial Group (Principal) and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).
Consumer data showed a significant positive increase in perceptions of financial inclusion across Southeast Asia, wherein Malaysia jumped into the top half of the rankings for public perception, rising from 20th place to 15th.
According to the survey, the country saw improvement across two of the three pillars of financial inclusion, ranking 22nd (up two places from 24th) for government support, 17th for financial system support (up six places from 23rd), and maintaining its fifth place ranking for employer support.
Significant improvements in Malaysia’s digital economy contributed to its improved overall financial inclusion position, improved rankings for the "volume of real-time transactions" (up 13 places to 14th) and "online connectivity’ (up three places to 24th) indicators.
Principal Malaysia country head and CEO Munirah Khairuddin said the continued focus on digitalisation and other initiative that eliminate barriers to people's ability to save and invest will further improve financial inclusion across the country.
"Principal is proud to join in this effort through the embrace of e-wallet solutions, which allows Malaysians to build optimal portfolios to achieve their financial goals.
"We will continue to work across sectors to help broaden awareness and access to the financial tools needed to help reach financial security," she said.
Repeating its 2022 performance, Singapore emerged as the most financially inclusive market in the 2023 survey.
The country ranked first, second, and third in the government, employer, and financial system support pillars, respectively.
While there has been improvement in both Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, the bottom 10 countries on the index are located in these two regions.
CEBR director and head of forecasting Key Neufeld said the data point to improvement in financial inclusion at a global level, despite the various economic challenges over the past year.
"Greater financial inclusion is occurring despite economies navigating through a period of supply-side shocks, heightened inflation, and consequent adjustments in interest rates," he said.