A step in the right direction
Since recent years, Panama’s government has been working towards implementing a set of financially inclusive policies. This initiative has been an essential step for the country to overcome poverty and increase economic growth. Overall, the strategy includes increasing the population's accessibility to all products and services offered by the financial sector. In 2019, Panama had nearly eight bank branches per 1,000 square kilometers, placing it far behind other Latin American nations. Moreover, only eight percent of Panamanians adults owned a credit card. This compared with an ownership rate of almost 41 percent in Uruguay, or nearly 30 percent in Chile and Venezuela.
Main obstacles towards financial inclusion in Latin America
Poor financial education and a lack of economic formalities have been the two most significant issues for the region moving towards widespread financial inclusion. Simultaneously, both pose incredible policy challenges and, gone unresolved, can cause considerable damage to a country's GDP. Regarding financial literacy, Chilean students reached the highest score among the Latin American countries analyzed by the program for international student assessment (PISA) in 2018, with 451. However, all Latin American countries analyzed performed below the OECD average of 505.