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Determinants of Access to Finance: An Investigation into the Mzansi Intervention

Philip Kostov, Thankom Arun () and Samuel Annim ()

The European Journal of Development Research, 2012, vol. 24, issue 3, 397-412

Abstract: This article aims to understand low-income household's latent behaviour in decision making around accessing financial services. We analyse the determinants of choice surrounding the pre-entry level bank account, Mzansi, by consumers in South Africa. Removing barriers to accessing finance should arguably generate large beneficial effects for low-income households, whereby the Mzansi account functions as the first step on the financial ladder for the previously unbanked. However, while previous research has focused primarily on supply-side barriers to accessing finance, based on assumptions that demand-side barriers are non-existent, we question this assumption and identify consumers’ financial perceptions and attitudes as a significant influence in determining demand for financial services among low-income households. Consequently, we argue that removing supply side constraints on its own is insufficient as a means to expand access to finance in developing countries.Cet article cherche à comprendre le comportement décisionnel latent des ménages à faibles revenus en matière d'accès aux services financiers. Nous analysons les déterminants du choix par les consommateurs sud africains, des comptes Mzansi – comptes bancaires de base à faible coût. L'élimination des obstacles à l'accès aux services bancaires devrait avoir des effets bénéfiques importants pour les ménages pauvres, dans la mesure où le compte Mzansi permet aux consommateurs n'ayant pas de compte d'accéder au premier niveau de l'échelle financière. Cependant, alors que des études antérieures se sont principalement intéressées aux obstacles liés à l'offre, nous remettons en cause l'hypothèse selon laquelle les obstacles liés à la demande n'existent pas et considérons que les perceptions et attitudes des consommateurs sont des facteurs importants influençant la demande de services financiers parmi les populations pauvres. Nous soutenons donc que la suppression des contraintes liées à l'offre ne suffit pas à elle seule à améliorer l'accès des populations aux services financiers dans les pays en développement.

Date: 2012
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The European Journal of Development Research is currently edited by Spencer Henson and Natalia Lorenzoni

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