challenge facing developing economies but developed economies as
well, and has been tackled with notable success by the UK with its
Universal Banking initiative.
At the time of the initiative’s launch in April 2003 the British
government estimated that 2.8 million households in the UK did not
have bank accounts. That number has been exceeded in the subsequent
uptake of what are termed basic bank accounts.
Data published by the British Banking Association (BBA) show
that since April 2003, net of closures, 3.58 million basic accounts
have been opened, 783,105 of these in 2008. In total there were
some 7.7 million basic bank accounts in operation at the end of
2008, a total that included basic accounts that have been in
existence since the 1980s.
Under the Universal Banking initiative accounts accessible via
ATMs and bank branches only are viewed as the most basic. At the
end of 2008 there were some 3.5 million of these accounts of which
a net total of 794,000 were opened since 2003.
The Universal Banking initiative also introduced a more advanced
basic account which in addition to ATMs and bank branches is
accessible via post office branches. Between 2003 and 2008, 3.5
million of these accounts were opened, half of which the BBA
estimates were for people with no previous banking relationship. Of
these 3.5 million accounts, 440,000 have been closed and upgraded
to a fuller-featured bank account.
Basic accounts accessible via post offices are offered by 16
banks and building societies.