In particular, access to and use of a bank account, offering a minimum of basic transactions has become key to social integration. The use of cash is decreasing as salaries, benefits and utilities are more and more paid via bank accounts. Increasingly, consumer goods and services are bought via payment cards. However, evidence shows that a substantial number of Europeans are still subject to financial exclusion, leading to a greater risk of social exclusion.
For those without access to basic financial services, life is more difficult. If they are already poor they may become poorer. They will pay more for goods and services. They are more likely to suffer from financial crises and will find it harder to recover from crises that do arise. They will find it harder to manage their budgets between bad times and good, especially without access to affordable credit. They are more vulnerable to financial hardship and over-indebtedness. They may be denied access to other services where payment choices are limited.
Financial inclusion is the idea that everyone should have access to the basic financial services that are necessary for full integration into modern society. Access means affordability, quality, and choice. Choice of payment form or receipt of information about financial matters, for example, can make a difference. If all information is only available online, one needs access to a computer and internet and the skills to use them. This is why the paper option might be the more appropriate choice and a more inclusive choice for Europe.
More information on financial inclusion: