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IFC Study: Improved Financial Literacy Can Help Expand Access to Formal Financial Services in Ukraine

Kyiv, Ukraine, June 23, 2021—Only 10 percent of Ukraine's population has ever checked their personal credit history due to low financial literacy rates and lack of trust in financial institutions, reveals a new IFC report. The IFC study aims to raise national awareness to improve access to financial services and allow Ukrainians to make informed financial decisions and build their assets while enhancing confidence in the banking sector.  

Though Ukraine has made good progress in expanding financial inclusion, a large number of consumers still do not have sufficient information to use the available credit products responsibly or to create a strong personal credit history. The credit information system is a crucial element of a country's financial infrastructure. Private credit bureaus can help financial institutions create credit rankings, make risk assessments, and take credit decisions, contributing to the overall health of any financial system.

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The study, Financial Literacy in Credit Information Sharing, was developed by IFC's advisory program—in partnership with the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the UK Government's Good Governance Fund—and the Ukrainian Bureau of Credit Histories. It is expected to serve as a basis for developing an action plan that can raise awareness of the credit information system and financial literacy among individuals and SMEs, thereby improving borrowing behavior and boosting access to finance.

"This survey aligns with Ukraine's strategy to increase financial inclusion and improve confidence in the country's financial sector," said Jason Pellmar, IFC's Regional Manager for Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova. "Increased financial literacy, especially in credit management, will help ordinary citizens tap into the efficiency and relative safety of the formal financial services sector to ensure economic vibrancy and resilience."

The report finds that awareness of the credit information exchange in Ukraine remains low—only 33 percent of respondents reported having heard about credit bureaus with only 2 percent able to name specific bureaus operating in Ukraine. Moreover, nearly two-thirds of respondents said they did not read their loan agreements carefully, while one-third of respondents reported having overdue loan payments. These findings help explain factors contributing to the large volume of non-performing loans in Ukraine. 

The IFC study demonstrates that a better understanding of credit history, along with a nationwide public awareness program, could help people actively participate in financial markets. It also recommends developing an educational program, which can explain how to maintain one's credit score by making timely payments, checking credit reports regularly, and paying off existing debt on credit cards.

The survey—based on interviews of up to 1,500 people from across the country—was conducted as part of IFC's four-year Financial Inclusion for Growth Program. Implemented in cooperation with the National Bank of Ukraine, Ministry of Digital Transformation, and private sector representatives, the program aims to leverage digital technology and innovative business models to advance financial inclusion in Ukraine.

About IFC

IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2020, we invested $22 billion in private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

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About SECO

SECO is Switzerland's competence center for all core issues relating to economic policy. SECO's economic development cooperation strives to achieve inclusive sustainable growth and poverty reduction in its partner countries. Its activities aim to create more and better jobs, to enhance trade and competitiveness, to support effective institutions and services and to foster climate resilient economies. For more information, visit www.seco-cooperation.admin.ch or www.eda.admin.ch/kyiv.

About GGF

The UK Government's Good Governance Fund (GGF) has a primary objective of building resilience in targeted countries by providing support for domestic reform agendas which reduce corruption; promote transparent and accountable institutions; and build open, inclusive economies and societies. For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/.

About the Ukrainian Bureau of Credit Histories Ltd. (UBCH)

UBCH is the high-tech bureau with the biggest base of credit histories in Ukraine and a full member and co-founder of the ALE Association of Credit Information Providers in Eurasia, which was established on October 23, 2018, with the aim of facilitating the development of credit reporting in Eurasia. The company's innovative solutions help improve the decision-making process, reduce financial risks and increase the level of security for all financial market participants. For more information, visit www.ubki.ua.