This paper analyses how financial inclusion in the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) compares to peers in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Using individual-level survey data, it shows that the probability of being financially included, as proxied by account ownership in financial institutions, is substantially lower across gender, income groups, and education levels in all CCA countries relative to CEE comparators. Key determinants of this financial inclusion gap are lower financial and human development indices, weak rule of law, and physical access to bank branches or ATMs. This suggests that targeted policies aimed at boosting financial and human development, strengthening the rule of law, and supporting fintech solutions can broaden financial inclusion in the CCA.
In Armenia, both external and domestic financing face challenges. Armenia’s share of inward foreign direct investment (FDI) in private external financing has declined significantly over the past decade. Access to domestic finance in Armenia is also moderate and masks important disparities. Against this background, this paper analyses the determinants of inward FDI and examines the impediments to increasing access to domestic finance. The paper confirms empirically that governance-related structural factors have a significant impact on inward FDI. Similar structural factors, informality and poor accounting practices are reported among major challenges for increasing access to finance for firms in Armenia. This paper finds that to improve financing in Armenia include: implementing structural reforms to improve the business environment, maintaining prudent macroeconomic policies, strengthening financial reporting, and improving financial inclusion through reduced informality in the economy.