Financial inclusion or inclusive financing is the delivery of financial services, at affordable costs, to sections of disadvantaged and low income segments of society, compared to financial exclusion, where they are not. Unrestrained access to public goods and services is the sine qua non of an open and efficient society. It is argued that as banking services are in the nature of public good; the availability of banking and payment services to the entire population without discrimination is the prime objective of this public policy. The term "financial inclusion" has gained importance since the early 2000s, and is a result of findings about financial exclusion and its direct correlation to poverty.
Financial inclusion, UN 
On 29 December 2003, then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said: ”The stark reality is that most poor people in the world still lack access to sustainable financial services, whether it is savings, credit or insurance. The great challenge before us is to address the constraints that exclude people from full participation in the financial sector. Together, we can and must build inclusive financial sectors that help people improve their lives.”
According to the United Nations the main goals of inclusive finance are as follows:
- Access at a reasonable cost of all households and enterprises to the range of financial services for which they are “bankable,” including savings, short and long-term credit, leasing and factoring, mortgages, insurance, pensions, payments, local money transfers and international remittances.
- Sound institutions, guided by appropriate internal management systems, industry performance standards, and performance monitoring by the market, as well as by sound prudential regulation where required
- Financial and institutional sustainability as a means of providing access to financial services over time
- Multiple providers of financial services, wherever feasible, so as to bring cost-effective and a wide variety of alternatives to customers (which could include any number of combinations of sound private, non-profit and public providers).....
The Alliance for Financial Inclusion 
The Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) is global network of financial policymakers from developing and emerging countries working together to increase access to appropriate financial services for the poor. The organization was formed in 2008 as a Bill & Melinda Gates funded project. Between 2008 and 2013 AFI grew to include 100 policy making institutions from the developing and emerging world. AFI hosts its landmark, annual Global Policy Forum (GPF) as the keystone event for its membership. During the 2011 GPF, the network adopted the Maya Declaration, a set of common principles and goals for financial inclusion policy development. AFI uses a "polylateral development" model to contrast and compare successful financial inclusion policies, focusing on a peer-to-peer system rather than a top-down or North-to-South learning model. The network has more than 100 member institutions from 88 countries across the globe.
Financial inclusion in India 
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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) set up the Khan Commission in 2004 to look into financial inclusion and the recommendations of the commission were incorporated into the mid-term review of the policy (2005–06). In the report RBI exhorted the banks with a view to achieving greater financial inclusion to make available a basic "no-frills" banking account. In India, financial inclusion first featured in 2005, when it was introduced by K.C. Chakraborthy, the chairman of Indian Bank. Mangalam became the first village in India where all households were provided banking facilities. Norms were relaxed for people intending to open accounts with annual deposits of less than Rs. 50,000. General credit cards (GCCs) were issued to the poor and the disadvantaged with a view to help them access easy credit. In January 2006, the Reserve Bank permitted commercial banks to make use of the services of non-governmental organizations (NGOs/SHGs), micro-finance institutions, and other civil society organizations as intermediaries for providing financial and banking services. These intermediaries could be used as business facilitators or business correspondents by commercial banks. The bank asked the commercial banks in different regions to start a 100% financial inclusion campaign on a pilot basis. As a result of the campaign, states or union territories like Puducherry, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala announced 100% financial inclusion in all their districts. Reserve Bank of India’s vision for 2020 is to open nearly 600 million new customers' accounts and service them through a variety of channels by leveraging on IT. However, illiteracy and the low income savings and lack of bank branches in rural areas continue to be a roadblock to financial inclusion in many states and there is inadequate legal and financial structure.
In India, RBI has initiated several measures to achieve greater financial inclusion,such as facilitating no-frills accounts and GCCs for small deposits and credit. Some of these steps are:
Opening of no-frills accounts: Basic banking no-frills account is with nil or very low minimum balance as well as charges that make such accounts accessible to vast sections of the population. Banks have been advised to provide small overdrafts in such accounts.
Relaxation on know-your-customer (KYC) norms:KYC requirements for opening bank accounts were relaxed for small accounts in August 2005, thereby simplifying procedures by stipulating that introduction by an account holder who has been subjected to the full KYC drill would suffice for opening such accounts.The banks were also permitted to take any evidence as to the identity and address of the customer to their satisfaction. It has now been further relaxed to include the letters issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India containing details of name, address and Aadhaar number.
Engaging business correspondents (BCs):In January 2006, RBI permitted banks to engage business facilitators (BFs) and BCs as intermediaries for providing financial and banking services. The BC model allows banks to provide doorstep delivery of services, especially cash in-cash out transactions, thus addressing the last-mile problem. The list of eligible individuals and entities that can be engaged as BCs is being widened from time to time. With effect from September 2010, for-profit companies have also been allowed to be engaged as BCs. India map of Financial Inclusion by MIX provides more insights on this.
Use of technology:Recognizing that technology has the potential to address the issues of outreach and credit delivery in rural and remote areas in a viable manner,banks have been advised to make effective use of information and communications technology (ICT), to provide doorstep banking services through the BC model where the accounts can be operated by even illiterate customers by using biometrics, thus ensuring the security of transactions and enhancing confidence in the banking system.
Adoption of EBT: Banks have been advised to implement EBT by leveraging ICT-based banking through BCs to transfer social benefits electronically to the bank account of the beneficiary and deliver government benefits to the doorstep of the beneficiary, thus reducing dependence on cash and lowering transaction costs.
GCC:With a view to helping the poor and the disadvantaged with access to easy credit, banks have been asked to consider introduction of a general purpose credit card facility up to `25,000 at their rural and semi-urban branches. The objective of the scheme is to provide hassle-free credit to banks’ customers based on the assessment of cash flow without insistence on security, purpose or end use of the credit. This is in the nature of revolving credit entitling the holder to withdraw up to the limit sanctioned.
Simplified branch authorization:To address the issue of uneven spread of bank branches, in December 2009, domestic scheduled commercial banks were permitted to freely open branches in tier III to tier VI centres with a population of less than 50,000 under general permission, subject to reporting. In the north-eastern states and Sikkim, domestic scheduled commercial banks can now open branches in rural,semi-urban and urban centres without the need to take permission from RBI in each case, subject to reporting.
Opening of branches in unbanked rural centres: To further step up the opening of branches in rural areas so as to improve banking penetration and financial inclusion rapidly, the need for the opening of more bricks and mortar branches, besides the use of BCs, was felt. Accordingly, banks have been mandated in the April monetary policy statement to allocate at least 25% of the total number of branches to be opened during a year to unbanked rural centres.
Financial inclusion in India is often closely connected to the aggressive microcredit policies that were introduced without the appropriate regulations oversight or consumer education policies. The result was consumers becoming quickly over-indebted to the point of committing suicide, lending institutions saw repayment rates collapse after politicians in one of the country's largest states called on borrowers to stop paying back their loans, threatening the existence of the entire 4 billion a year Indian microcredit industry. This crisis has often been compared to the mortgage lending crisis in the US.
The challenge for those working in the financial inclusion field has been to separate micro-credit as only one aspect of the larger financial inclusion efforts and use the Indian crisis as an example of the importance of having the appropriate regulatory and educational policy framework in place.
See also 
- "Annual Progress Report to AFI members" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-07.
- MIX, MARKET. "India Financial Inclusion Map". MIX Market.
- Polgreen, Lydia; Bajaj, Vikas (17 November 2010). "India Microcredit Sector Faces Collapse From Defaults". The New York Times.
Chakrabarty, Dr. K.C. "Financial Inclusion | A road India needs to travel". Reserve Bank of India. Retrieved 12 Oct 2011.
- The Alliance for Financial Inclusion
- Transact, National Forum for Financial Inclusion
- Financial Inclusion Taskforce, UK
- Research Unit for Financial Inclusion
- UNCDF report on Financial Inclusion
- Resources, articles and documents from Financial Inclusion Champions site, UK
- FDIC Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion (United States)
- Financial Inclusion - An Overview (India)
- World Bank Global Financial Inclusion Database
- World Bank Global Financial Inclusion Data Portal