Results from FinScope South Africa 2016 Survey on Financial Inclusion


Johannesburg, 8 November 2016: FinMark Trust released the results of the FinScope South Africa 2016 Survey today. The FinScope Survey, developed by FinMark Trust, is a research tool to assess financial access in a country and to identify the constraints that prevent financial service providers from reaching the financially under- and un-served people. The FinScope Survey is a nationally representative survey of how individuals source their incomes and how they manage their financial lives. It also provides insight into attitudes and perceptions regarding financial products and services. To date, FinScope Consumer Surveys have been conducted in 27 countries including South Africa, where it has been implemented annually for the past 14 years.

The 2016 SA FinScope survey was based on a nationally representative sample of 4992 adults who are 16 years or older. It continues to go beyond the measurement and tracking of access to financial services to look into the quality of financial inclusion by unpacking the benefits derived from the utilisation of financial products and services.

FinMark Trust defines financial inclusion as the broadening and deepening of the access to, usage of, and quality of financial products/services to all adults particularly the marginalised groups such as the un-served and under-served.

Highlights from the Survey

The 2016 FinScope survey shows that in South Africa levels of financial inclusion remained stable over the last three years, which maybe an indication of a saturated financial sector. This is reflected by 89% of all adults (38.2 million) having some type of financial account – either formal or informal. FinMark Trust has since started interrogating the ‘quality’ aspects of financial services to reflect the benefits that consumers enjoy from being financially included as the access and uptake have plateaued.

There was a marginal decline in the number of adults who are financially excluded (these are adult who do not have or use any type of financial service or product in their name). About 11% of the adult population are financially excluded representing 4.3 million adults. As expected, 38% of those aged between 15 years and 17 years are financially excluded compared to 18% of those aged between 18 years and 29 years. Most of the excluded young adults may not be employed and are still economically and financially unsettled.

Uptake of Financial Services and Products – The study focused on a range of available financial services and products in South Africa ranging from credit, savings, banking services to insurance.

  • Banked – In total, 77% of all adults have a bank account. However, if the SASSA card holders are excluded only 58% of adults are banked.
  • Credit: About 51% of adults are borrowing from various sources to supplement their limited resources. This is driven by credit from other formal (non-bank) credit providers (46%), while only 14% are borrowing from banking institutions. On the ‘quality’ aspect, the narrative for developmental credit is becoming the norm as 5% have used credit for developmental reasons.
  • Savings and investments – Generally, savings have stagnated year-on-year. In 2016, 33% of adults were saving with 15% saving through banks, 14% saving at other formal (non-bank) institutions, 8% save with informal institutions and 11% save at home. Interestingly, there has been an emerging trend where adults interchangeably save for funeral expenses either through stokvels or burial societies. The motive for saving is to finance funeral related expenses. In 2016, 18% of adults indicated that they are saving for a long-term period, 12% are saving for the medium term while 8% are saving for the short-term. The longer the term, the higher the likelihood that savings will not be withdrawn (until maturity).
  • Remittances channels – As the development in the remittances space has seen the closure of Vodacom’s MPesa and MTN’s Mobile Money, there are emerging players in the market with new offerings. The survey shows that there are about 7.9 million adults sending money to about 12.7 million recipients. Of the senders, 87% are sending money once a month. Furthermore, about 32% of adults are remitting via supermarket money transfer counters, whereas 22% are remitting via cellphone based applications.
  • Insurance and risk mitigation – Insurance is meant to cushion adults from shocks and unexpected incidents such as accident, injury or loss of property. However, only 22% of adults in 2016 have insurable cover (excluding funeral related). There is the growing trend for adults to hold two or more funeral policies from multiple sources. The issue of ‘quality’ becomes more relevant in this instance as the additional (funeral cover) premiums could be diverted to significant and beneficial options (such as life cover) in order to benefit dependents when the breadwinner has passed on.

The three faces of South African adults – Through a segmentation process, the South African adults have been classified in three categories as follows:

  • Low – constitutes the majority with 30.8 million of the adults in 2016.
  • Middle – the second biggest category with 6 million adults.
  • High – this category entails 1.2 million adults taxed at the higher end of the tax brackets.

The 2016 FinScope results offer an analysis on these three categories and the changes that have been observed over the past 10 years.

The FinScope South Africa 2016 Survey offers insights for better decision-making, not only to enhance financial inclusion but to improve the lives of ordinary citizens.

Further details about FinScope Surveys can be accessed at


Editorial Contact:
Kingstone Mutsonziwa (Email: or Jabulani Khumalo (Email: or Abel Motsomi (Email:
Tel: +27 11 315-9197

About FinMark Trust

FinMark Trust (FMT) is an independent trust established in 2002 with the objective of making markets work for the poor. Initial core funding was provided by UKaid from the Department for International Development (DFID) through its Southern Africa office. Recently additional funders have come on board including the UNCDF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the MasterCard Foundation as well as private and public institutions at country level. FinMark Trust’s purpose is ‘Making financial markets work for the poor, by promoting financial inclusion and regional financial integration’. FinMark Trust does this by conducting research to identify the systemic constraints that prevent financial markets from reaching out to these consumers and by advocating for change on the basis of research findings. Please visit for more information.

About FinScope

FinScope is an evidenced based research tool developed by FinMark Trust and aims at filling the information gap in financial markets within most developing countries. Its purpose is to establish credible benchmarks on the use of, and access to, financial services. It is designed to highlight opportunities for innovation in products and delivery. FinScope Consumer Surveys have been completed in 27 countries. This allows for cross-country comparison and sharing of findings which are key in assisting on-going growth and strengthening the development of financial markets.