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Slight majority of Pakistanis (55%) feel that banks take advantage of poor people.

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According to a survey conducted by Gallup Pakistan, 55% Pakistanis agreed with the following statement: ‘Banks take advantage of poor people’. On the other hand, 45% disagreed with this statement. These results are a part of the nationwide Access to Finance Study conducted by the State Bank of Pakistan in 2015 with the intent of determining the degree of financial inclusiveness of the Pakistani public (please refer to page # 4 for more details).

This press release is part of a special series that aim to foster an empirical understanding of financial inclusion in Pakistan and that hope to create a collaborative network of individuals working on the topic. Before starting any conversation on developing a methodology of increasing financial inclusivity in Pakistan, it is vital to be aware of the perceptions that the general public has with regards to financial matters. This particular press release aims to determine the views of Pakistanis on the trustworthiness and integrity of banks. In Pakistan, people often avoid using financial institutions because of a number of reasons. One of those reasons is a lack of trust in these institutions. One of the reasons for this lack of trust is perhaps down to a notion in people’s minds that banks are exploitative in nature and that they particularly prey on the underprivileged and the destitute. This press release aims to empirically determine the proportion of Pakistanis that have such a view about banks.

A nationally representative sample of men and women from across the four provinces was asked, “Please tell me if you rather agree or rather disagree with these statements? [Banks take advantage of poor people]” In response to this question, 55% Pakistanis agreed with this statement whereas 45% respondents disagreed. The empirical results show that majority opinion in the Country is still wary of banks. This empirical statistic shows that financial stakeholders in Pakistan still have to make an effort in building a trustworthy image of banks and other formal financial institutions because, as things stand right now, Pakistanis do tend to think of banks as exploitative.

A gender breakdown of this result also reveals a picture with an insignificant gap between the two genders. 56% males agreed that banks take advantage of poor people while the same response was given by 54% of the females. Meanwhile, 44% males disagreed with this statement while the same response was given by 46% of the females.

A rural/urban breakdown reveals that 54% of the respondents in urban areas and 56% in rural areas felt that banks were exploiting the poor people of the Country. This negligible difference between the proportion of urban and rural respondents agreeing with this statement highlights an important aspect of the Pakistani society with regards to the perception regarding banks. Despite there being a considerable disparity in the socio-economic development between the urban and rural areas of Pakistan, the proportion of urban respondents agreeing to this statement is still remarkably high. This seems to show that Pakistanis, regardless of their education or income level, are still distrustful of banks and feel that they are exploitative in nature. Finally, 46% in the urban areas disagreed with this statement while the same answer was given by 44% of the respondents in rural areas.

According to the provincial breakdown, 56% of the respondents in Punjab, 53% in Sindh, 65% in KPK and 31% in Baluchistan agreed that banks exploited the poor people. On the other hand, 44% of the respondents in Punjab, 47% in Sindh, 35% in KPK and 69% in Baluchistan disagreed with the statement. The fact that Baluchistan has the highest proportion of respondents that disagree with this statement is perplexing indeed. Despite not being on the same level of socio-economic development as some of Pakistan’s other provinces, notably Punjab and KPK, one would think that the people of Baluchistan would be more suspicious of banks. However, as the empirical results show, the case is different and needs to be explored further in order to develop a meaningful hypothesis.

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