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Financial inclusion, mobile banking, informal finance and financial exclusion: micro-level evidence from Morocco

Elhadj Ezzahid (Mohammed V University of Rabat, Morocco)
Zakaria Elouaourti (Mohammed V University of Rabat, Morocco)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 29 April 2021

Issue publication date: 22 June 2021




This study has a dual purpose. The first is constructing a financial inclusion index to investigate if the reforms implemented during the last decades at the macroeconomic and sectoral levels have contributed to increase the financial inclusion level in Morocco. The second is to deepen the investigation to explore the impact of these reforms at the microeconomic level, by focusing on six major issues: determinants of financial inclusion, links between individual characteristics and barriers to financial inclusion, determinants of mobile banking use, motivations for saving, credit objectives and determinants of resorting to informal finance.


First, the principal component analysis methodology is mobilized to construct a financial inclusion index for Morocco. Second, the probit model methodology on a micro-level database of 5,110 Moroccan adults is used.


First, the financial inclusion index shows that financial inclusion in Morocco over the last two decades has followed different trends. The first period (1999–2004) was characterized by a slight upswing in the level of financial inclusion. In the second period (2004–2012), the level of financial inclusion increased significantly. During the third period (2012–2019), the financial inclusion maintained almost the same level. Second, empirical results showed that the determinants of formal finance and mobile banking are different from those of informal finance. Having a high educational attainment and being a participant in the labor market fosters financial inclusion. Concerning financial exclusion determinants, the results emphasized that a high educational attainment reduces the barriers leading to voluntary exclusion. As income level increases, barriers of involuntary exclusion such as “lack of money” become surmountable. Although "remoteness" and "high cost" are the major barriers to financial inclusion of all Moroccan social classes, the development of mobile banking allows to eliminate, smoothen and/or loosen all barriers sources of involuntary exclusion. As for the barriers causing voluntary exclusion, the Islamic finance model constitutes a lever for the inclusion of population segments excluded for religious reasons. As for the determinants of the recourse to informal finance, being a woman, an older person and having a low educational level (no more than secondary education) increase the probability to turn to informal finance.

Research limitations/implications

The main limitation of this study is the non-availability of data on the two dimensions (quality and welfare) of financial inclusion. The composite index is constructed on the basis of two dimensions (access and use) for which data are available.

Practical implications

This study has three main implications. In practice, with the launching of the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion, this work provides empirical grounded evidence that contributes to design financial inclusion policies in Morocco. In research, while the debate on financial inclusion, mobile banking and informal finance has been raging in recent years, Morocco, like many other African countries, has not received coverage on these topics at the household level.

Social implications

For society, this study provides considerable insight about the segments of population that are financially excluded and the main reasons for their exclusion.


This study enriches the existing literature with four essential contributions. First, it analyzes the evolution of the level of financial inclusion in the Moroccan economy through the development of a synthetic index. Second, it is the first to study the Moroccan population's financial behavior on the basis of micro-level data, which will help understand more precisely their financial behavior and the main obstacles to their inclusion. Third, this study explores the determinants of the use of mobile banking. Fourth, it sheds some light on the main determinants of the recourse to informal finance.



The authors sincerely thank the two anonymous reviewers for their comments that contributed to the improvement and clarification of this paper.

The article “Financial inclusion, mobile banking, informal finance and financial exclusion: Micro-level evidence from Morocco” was presented at the 3rd edition of the International Conference on Research and Studies in Finance (CIREF), organized on 3 and 4 March 2020 in Fez, Morocco, under the theme “sustainable finance, fintech, blockchain, collaborative finance and financial inclusion”.


Ezzahid, E. and Elouaourti, Z. (2021), "Financial inclusion, mobile banking, informal finance and financial exclusion: micro-level evidence from Morocco", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 48 No. 7, pp. 1060-1086.



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