There was a slight cheer for the progress of financial wellbeing or financial literacy in the Asia-Pacific markets, as MasterCard found that its literacy score went up by one point, coming in at 64. Conversely, developed economies and countries showed unchanged scores.
Emerging markets have shown the most impact from global volatility, as Vietnam had a 58 reading, down from 65 last year. Myanmar is, similarly, at 60, down roughly half a dozen points. The Philippines were at 62, down four points.
In a statement, Georgette Tan, who heads MasterCard’s consumer relations in Asia-Pacifc, said: “The fact that we have hit a record low in financial literacy scores across the region is a huge concern and must be immediately looked into. As far as emerging markets are concerned, while the reduced gender gap is certainly laudable, this year’s Financial Literacy Index shows that these countries are evidently struggling the most here. Generally, the young and the unemployed across all markets require special focus to boost the overall financial literacy in the region.”
“The increasingly complex and interconnected financial markets, along with mounting uncertainties surrounding the global economy, have made it even more paramount for greater financial knowledge among consumers, and this is especially vital when it comes to making sound investment decisions. What is evident from this year’s outcome is that mere individual initiative is not going to be enough to counter this problem. The resolution of this issue lies in a collective endeavor, comprising government reforms, community initiatives, education and financial services, combined with individual effort.”
Among the findings, Singapore was at the top for the first time, placing there with a score of more than 71, and it was the sole market with advances across all components in money management and financial planning. And region-wide, there is a lack of real understanding about diversification and inflation, with low scores in each, in the mid-30 point range.