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A government-sponsored survey in Brazil has generated debate about the country’s efforts to broaden access to banking services. The nationwide poll, conducted by the Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada, a foundation that advises the government on development policy, suggests that Brazilians are otherwise happy with their banks, although there is a gap between the services on offer and those that bank customers would like to receive.

Bank exclusion is an important issue in Brazil. Some 53m Brazilian adults do not have a bank account. Although high, the ranks of the unbanked are much smaller than they were ten years ago, thanks to more workers joining the formal job market. According to the Brazilian Federation of Banks, the number of bank accounts more than doubled over the past decade, reaching 134m at the end of 2009. Reflecting in part the success of policies to promote social inclusion under president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, more than 20% of those surveyed by IPEA said that they opened a bank account within the past five years.

Read more at Financial Services Briefing: “Accounts for all” (January 18th)