FinScope consumer surveys are nationally representative surveys that studies of how individuals source their income, how they manage their financial lives and focuses on adults in a particular country. FinScope Consumer surveys have been conducted in 26 countries (13 in the SADC region, 6 in non-SADC region and 7 in Asia). In addition to the consumer surveys the methodology has been adapted to also understand financial behaviours of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.  (MSME).  The surveys create an understanding of consumer perceptions and behaviours by exploring either individuals’ or small business owners’ interactions with the financial sector as a whole.  The FinScope MSME surveys have been implemented in 7 countries.

The findings of the first national FinScope consumer survey were published in South Africa in 2003. Since then the study has evolved across the African and Asian continents into a powerful research tool, which can be used by any organisation or government concerned with understanding these interactions – or their absence – by people across the spectrum of national population. Engagement with formal and informal financial services is gauged within the surveys.

FinScope data provides a national view on the financial landscape and provides valuable insights of how financial access and the use of financial services is changing.  It provides insight into people’s perceptions of financial products and of service providers. FinScope also looks at underlying belief structures and goes further by trying to uncover the how people make decisions about their finances. Continuous and expanding use of the survey findings is increasingly adding value to policymakers and financial services providers with exciting benefits for financial markets and people in general.

Evidence and analysis that is robust and publicly available can serve as an important input into policy and regulatory debate. FinScope data has been used in the decision making process for policy makers and regulators across many countries, as a tool that provides evidence of market conditions as it relates to the myriad of components of financial inclusion.

FinScope surveys are an essential component of our mandate to provide evidence-based influence into policy-making and innovation by service providers, and measuring the impact thereof.  FinScope surveys underpin policy and regulatory analysis, provide a benchmark for the regional integration framework and shed light on cross-border and domestic money payment systems.  Thus, a key focus of the Information and Research Support theme area has been in providing detailed, robust datasets on financial inclusion in Africa that can inform internal analysis and policy work as well as providing a platform for stakeholders in the financial services sector to be informed, leading to better decision-making.  The essential ingredient of good evidence-based analysis is a robust analytical methodology that is able to provide in-depth insight into financial inclusion. Over a period of fourteen years, FinScope surveys have cemented a robust methodological framework that can support evidence-based policy-making.  The FinScope surveys have become a well-recognised brand on the continent and remain the cornerstone of our evidence based policy and analysis framework. Since its inception in 2002, FinMark Trust has ensured the evolution of the survey to protect its independence and credibility.  Processes are open and transparent and involves multiple layers of checks and balances to protect the credibility of the data.

Following years of experience, FinMark Trust has expertise to roll out FinScope surveys across multiple countries using an established and reputable methodology.  Stakeholder buy-in and engagement throughout the process, a standard sampling methodology and analytical framework are the cornerstones of our approach.  The three analytical tools, namely, access strand, landscape of access and the access frontier measuring financial inclusion, have become a standard reporting framework.  Furthermore, the livelihoods approach developed in 2010, has matured as a conceptual framework that is used to drive the development of the FinScope questionnaire.  The FinScope survey thus aims to provide a clear understanding of real demand-side needs in terms of different livelihoods in order to facilitate evidence and need-based interventions.

Financial access is driven both by demand and the availability of relevant products and services able to meet market needs.  The FinScope surveys also incorporate a supply-side component in order to provide a comprehensive market assessment.  The supply-side component comprises an assessment of financial products (formal and informal) available in the market. For formal financial products, the survey provides insight into the geographical distribution, target markets, service costs and requirements.