IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Financial Services for the Poor: Lack of Personal Identification Documents Impedes Access


  • Nicola Jentzsch


Without a birth certificate, no identity card can be issued and without identity card, there is no access to formal financial services. This link seems to be trivial in industrialized countries, where the ability of the individual to participate in economic life is rarely hindered by a lack of identification. In many developing countries, however, access to financial services is often denied, because potential customers cannot be identified based upon official identity documents-a basic due diligence requirement under international anti-money laundering regulations. In many developing and emerging countries, poor people have no opportunity to obtain such documents, as a large portion of the population has not been registered at birth. Without a birth certificate, however, no identity card can be issued, which is required by banks for customer identity verification. To date, the problem of identification has not played a prominent role in research concerning access to financial services. In the past, researchers have primarily focused on microfinance. In order to expand access to formal financial services, new methods for customer identification must be developed which address the realities in developing countries. Initial steps to expand access for the poor population have already been taken in countries such as India and South Africa. Aside from addressing problems associated with missing identification, it is also necessary to introduce basic financial products such as micro accounts, where the low risk associated with them is taken into account. Less demanding identification means for low-risk financial products ought to be internationally recognized and instituted in order to dispel legal ambiguities.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicola Jentzsch, 2009. "Financial Services for the Poor: Lack of Personal Identification Documents Impedes Access," Weekly Report, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 5(17), pages 114-121.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwrp:wr5-17

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Dean Karlan, Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan, Jonathan Zinman, 2013. "Savings by and for the Poor: A Research Review and Agenda-Working Paper 346," Working Papers 346, Center for Global Development.
    2. Dean Karlan & Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan & Jonathan Zinman, 2014. "Savings by and for the Poor: A Research Review and Agenda," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(1), pages 36-78, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K - Law and Economics
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:diw:diwwrp:wr5-17. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Bibliothek). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.