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Millions lack access to basic financial services

Source: ABC News: 01 Jun 2012

Nearly 3 million Australians do not have access to basic financial products such as a credit card, car insurance or even a bank account, according to a private study.

The annual report by the Centre for Social Impact and National Australia Bank found that those most often excluded have literacy and language difficulties and live in remote areas.

The Measuring Financial Exclusion in Australia report found 17.2 per cent of the population did not have access to appropriate and affordable mainstream financial services such as a bank account in 2011.

It found 192,000 adults had no financial service whatsoever, while 2,803,000 adults had only one service.

And there was a 36 per cent jump in the proportion of adults who did not have a bank account in 2011.

The report's author, Chris Connelly, says these adults are putting themselves at further financial trouble by borrowing from family and friends or dodgy lenders.

"Unfortunately the alternatives that they have are the fringe credit products," Mr Connelly said.

"They tend to exploit consumers. They can be incredibly expensive ... and it also means that those individuals don't have any money set aside or don't have access to credit for an emergency."

The study found the problem was spread across the country.

"We've found that there are some regions that have very high levels of financial exclusion - Wollongong, the inner city areas of Sydney and Melbourne for example, and also some very large regional and remote areas of Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia," Mr Connelly said.

ABC News


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