Colombia: Selected Issues Paper


Colombia: Selected Issues Paper

Informal Finance and Financial Inclusion Policies1

This chapter studies the determinants of informal finance in two household surveys and describes the most recent policies to foster financial inclusion. Financial education and schooling are both important for fostering formal finance use, as are labor formalization and income growth. Over the past year, the main achievements on the financial inclusion front have been the launch of the electronic money issuers license and the implementation of the centralized electronic movable property registry. In parallel, various national institutions are coordinating to provide financial education through schools and media, which should also contribute to financial system stability.

A. Introduction

1. Including population into the formal financial sector has been the objective of many countries as a vehicle to improve the status of the poor and foster equality. While the concept of financial inclusion may not be well defined in the literature, financial inclusion policies mostly focus on the needs of financially-constrained households and enterprises, and target access and effective usage of formal financial services. By channeling savings to productive use, formal financial inclusion is believed to support enterprise creation and investment, and boost economic growth, pulling individuals out of poverty. Formal financial inclusion can also help individuals cope with shocks, offering opportunities for consumption smoothing, and dampen prospective income inequality by ensuring stronger initial conditions for the poor.

2. Informal finance, however, continues thriving, also in those countries that have made important progress in expanding coverage of formal finance. Including in urban areas, where presence of formal institutions is more prominent, individuals and enterprises with formal access sometimes use also informal channels for savings and borrowing, suggesting that these two seemingly opposing worlds of formal and informal finance can complement each other in some way in satisfying their financial needs. Yet, the role of informal finance is often overlooked by policy makers who consider people without formal financial access purely unbanked.

3. Further progress with formal financial inclusion in Colombia will benefit from better knowledge of the advantages provided by informal finance from the point of view of its users. As a starting point, the profiles of informal finance users should be determined and obstacles that prevent access to formal finance must be understood. This information could provide a basis for developing products targeted to the unbanked and designing “second generation” financial inclusion policies that provide consumption smoothing and investment opportunities which may currently be untapped or offered also through informal finance. In this paper, we attempt to contribute to the study of informal finance based on available household surveys in Colombia. We then describe the most recent government’s financial inclusion initiatives, and track their early effects.

4. Our study presents some novelties. This is the first study based on a new households survey on the financial burden of households in Bogotá. Moreover, while two other empirical studies touch upon the determinants of informal finance in Colombia, this is the only one that considers the link between informal finance and informal work explicitly.2

B. Informal Finance in Recent Colombian Surveys and Literature

5. Colombia’s swift progress with financial inclusion has been documented in national reports as well as in studies conducted by multilateral and private sector institutions. According to the 2014 Global Microscope, for instance, last year’s top financial inclusion achievers in Latin America were Peru and Colombia, who both display strength in policies and environment, in areas beyond microfinance, ranking as the top five in most of the indicators across the board. Colombia and Peru are both global leaders in prudential regulation and rules for deposit-taking, and have good standards on regulation for microcredit and microinsurance (Global Microscope, 2014). On the supply side, the long-term financial inclusion strategy has resulted in a wealth of statistical information on financial access (physical presence of financial institutions), “bancarization” (adult population coverage), penetration by financial products, and financial transactions which are rigorously documented with high frequency. The quarterly Informe de inclusión financiera, carried out by Colombia’s Asobancaria reports on financial products coverage of population by municipality. As a result of work carried out jointly between the Financial Superintendence (SFC) and the Banca de las Oportunidades, program to assist those with limited access to banking services, it was decided to produce also an annual report (Reporte de inclusión financiera) as a basic input for analyzing financial inclusion and, since 2011, four such reports have been published describing the state of access and use of financial services. In addition, the central bank publishes the annual Informe especial de inclusión financiera which studies some aspects related to access and usage of financial services. On the other hand, households and enterprise surveys have documented users perceptions which can support the analysis of financial inclusion from the side of the demand.

6. Progress with formal financial inclusion has been impressive over recent years, yet, a large share of population continues to use informal finance. The share of adult population owning an account at a formal financial institution has increased from 30 to 38 percent between 2011 and 2014 in Colombia but is below Latin America and upper middle income country average. Although small, the share of adult population saving formally has also increased from 9 to 12 percent. Moreover, formal saving and borrowing indicators have improved especially among the 40 percent bottom income population over this period as well. However, informal finance, although declining in some dimensions, is more prominent than in comparators countries and continues to coexist with formal finance, both as substitute and complement in providing financing options accessible through formal channels in urban areas.


Account at a Financial Institution

(Percent, Age 15+)

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2015, 143; 10.5089/9781513546261.002.A006

Source: Global Financial Inclusion Database, The World Bank.

Borrowed from Family and Friends

(Percent, Age 15+)

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2015, 143; 10.5089/9781513546261.002.A006

Source: Global Financial Inclusion Database, The World Bank.

7. Preference for cash in financial transactions is strong in Colombia, and could be associated to informal finance. In the literature, preference for cash is found to be closely linked with the use of informal finance for savings and borrowing while both depend on individuals’ work status, income, age and education across different countries.3 Cash seems to work for the unbanked because they have already established mechanisms to deal with it, but also because cash is tangible, universally accepted, and does not require acquiring new technological skills. In turn, digital systems take a long time to develop, and can be complex. Digital payment services, however, can bring cost savings and increase efficiency especially in remote areas and for rural communities. Digital financial services, moreover, provide clients with greater privacy and safety while cash offers opportunities for corruption and tax evasion. While large volumes payments are made digitally in Colombia (almost 70 percent in 2012), the majority of small and medium value payments (90 percent) are still made in cash. In particular, consumer purchases are found to be lagging mainly because of high cost for merchants to enroll in the programs, generally low usage (acceptance) of debit cards, and the inability of merchants to retain the VAT (Better than Cash, 2015).

8. Informal finance is, however, not sufficiently studied in Colombia, possibly on account of information gaps in household surveys. In 2010, a new survey—Encuesta de Carga Financiera y Educación de Hogares (IEFIC)—was introduced by the statistical office (DANE) and the central bank to study financial products use and financial education in Bogotá. This survey is as a subset of the integrated households survey (Gran Encuesta Integrada de Hogares, GEIH) administered monthly at the national level. The survey contains a wealth of information regarding financial behavior of respondents; however, it does not provide insights over the characteristics and behavior of the unbanked population and those who only use informal finance. Other sources of information on informal finance include the World Bank Findex indicator, and the one-off Financial Capabilities Survey also administered by the World Bank in 2012, and used in developing the National Strategy on Social and Economic Policy (CONPES) document outlining the strategy for financial education. The latter allows understanding financial attitudes, capabilities and financial education in both formal and informal finance universes albeit also with some limitations. Both surveys do not allow gauging the time dimension of the phenomenon, which may also be changing rapidly in light of governments’ many actions to spread formal finance across the country and to the poor.

9. World Bank’s Financial Capabilities Survey suggests that informal credit may be important for consumption smoothing and persistent over time. The evidence from the sample suggests that informal savings may be of short-term nature while informal borrowing, although potentially also short-term, may be determined by factors that are long-term in nature, such as earned income. In particular:

  • 30 percent of respondents have some money left after they’ve met their basic needs and potentially constitute formal financial sector savers. The majority of these claims to save for emergencies, primary necessities, and future purchases suggesting that their savings might have a short horizon. We do not know from the survey, however, if they save formally or informally.

  • 60 percent of respondents (at least occasionally) runs out of money to meet basic needs, the majority of which blames it on insufficient income. A vast share, about 56 percent of these “potential borrowers”, obtains credit from family, friends, loan sharks, stores and co-workers and a considerable share—27 percent—obtains credit for their purchases at retail stores. These are expected to be people with more precarious jobs and lower and more volatile incomes. A third of respondents who “run out of money to meet basic needs” borrows formally.


Top 3 Potential Uses for Savings

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2015, 143; 10.5089/9781513546261.002.A006

Source: Fund staff estimates based on Financial Capabilities Survey.

Main Reasons to Run Short of Money

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2015, 143; 10.5089/9781513546261.002.A006

Source: Fund staff estimates based on Financial Capabilities Survey.

10. Informal finance determinants include age, work status, income, education and financial knowledge. We first define the concept of informal finance user by combining answers to two different sets of questions to include individuals who responded directly to being users of informal finance and those who claim to rely on informal channels when they run out of money for basic needs. The opposing universe includes individuals in the survey who use only formal finance—people who have a mortgage, some sort of loan from a formal financial institution, a credit or debit card, or microcredit—representing about 1/3 of the subsample. In this sample we use two different specifications of informal work based on the self assessment of respondents. In the first regression, “formal workers” include those employed in the formal sector and self-employed, informal workers are those employed in the informal sector, while “other workers” include students and house help. In the second specification self-employed are excluded from the “formal” work.

11. We find that the likelihood of using informal credit increases with age, and decreases at higher income levels, and is significantly lower for people with tertiary education degree (see Appendix, Tables 1 and 2). Moreover, for every incremental point in the financial education score the likelihood of using informal finance decreases by 5 percent. Formal workers are less likely to be users of informal finance compared to those employed in the informal sector and this finding holds for both specification of informal work.4 Interestingly, recipients of government transfers and pensions are also less likely to use informal finance. This can be ascribed to government efforts to extend transfers through banking channels as part of the various recent social initiatives and financial inclusion programs such as the Banca de las Oportunidades program.

12. Among people who claim to be running out of money for basic needs informal finance is determined by education and distance to financial institutions.5 In this more homogeneous sub-sample, we find that greater distance from a formal financial institution and lower education level both increase the probability of being a user of informal credit in the group of people who run out of money for basic needs while other variables, including individual characteristics, income and financial education scores, are not significant (See Appendix, Table 3).6 Because these are likely to be people with lower, more volatile incomes, and precarious jobs understanding the role of informal finance for consumption smoothing is important. Physical distance to formal finance providers may be playing a greater role for this group also because of constrained incomes.

13. An analysis of the IEFIC survey identifies broadly comparable informal finance determinants with limitations on the population studied. The IEFIC is administered to a preset cohort of inhabitants living in the capital who have answered in the GEIH that they use formal finance. In this survey, we have a richer set of information on financial products use, but being narrowly focused to Bogotá is a considerable shortcoming for studying the unbanked and the informal finance users who are likely to be more numerous in distant and rural areas of the country where the physical presence of formal financial institutions is less prominent.7 We are looking at determinants of informal finance based on a similar set of variables used in the analysis above and constructed from the survey. The dependent variable in this case includes users of formal and informal finance while the opposing universe is confined to people who use only formal financial products (i.e. respondents who claim that they have at least one of the following formal financial products: credit card, mortgage, savings accounts, investment loans, student loans, stocks, fixed term deposits). Informal workers are employees and owners of companies with less than 5 workers, unpaid family members and housekeepers. We find that the probability of using informal finance decreases for higher income and education levels, and is lower for formal workers and recipients of pensions (see Appendix, Tables 4 and 5). However, a higher financial education score, constructed from questions designed to assess financial knowledge of respondents, is associated here with a higher probability of using informal finance in the sample.8 While counterintuitive, this finding is in itself interesting and suggests that informal finance may be offering funding solutions that, for a variety of possible reasons, closely meet some needs even of financially educated people who are not unbanked and warrants further consideration.

C. Latest Financial Inclusion Initiatives

14. The national financial inclusion strategy in Colombia builds upon four mutually supporting dimensions that aim to eradicate inefficiencies hindering financial inclusion. The objectives focus on:

  • Promoting competition. The Colombian banking system is highly concentrated with five banks dominating the market in terms of assets and liabilities; the cost of access to financial services is high and most binding for the poor population (Karpowicz, 2014);

  • Developing products targeted to the unbanked. A considerable share of the population remains unbanked, in part because current financial services do not match their needs. New simplified financial services accounts are being developed and the use of mobile banking is fostered in tandem with improved product design taking into account specific customer needs, while new points-of-sales terminals in commercial establishments are also opening;

  • Strengthening collateral. Collateral requirements are high in Colombia possibly also reflecting low quality and enforceability; in the World Bank 2010 Enterprise Survey 44 percent of loans were subject to collateral requirements in Colombia while the average value of collateral amounted to 113 percent of the loan value; collateral requirements were found to be the most binding financial system constraint to deepening (Karpowicz, 2014); and

  • Fostering financial education. Colombians are found to have strong budgeting skills in a set of countries that underwent a study on financial capabilities (Reddy, 2013), however, financial literacy scores were somewhat lower.

Promoting Competition through Licensing of SEDE

15. Following the steps of Brazil, Bolivia and Peru, in 2014, Colombia has allowed licensing of electronic money issuers (Sociedad Especializada en Depósitos y Pagos Electrónicos—SEDPE) aimed at promoting competition.9 While previously non-banks could not take deposits from the public, the SEDPE are authorized to raise deposits and offer electronic payment services but not to intermediate funds. Thus, although they may not be able to obtain credit, SEDPE’s clients will be able to save, send and receive money, and make other payments but also to build a payments and savings history that can help them access credit in the future. Some new accounts will have a simplified opening and lighter “know-your-customer” requirements, while payments made from the accounts will be exempt from the (4×1,000) financial transaction tax. The deposit insurance guarantee fund (Fogafín) will cover deposits for up to Col$20 million. Similar to other financial institutions, SEDPE will have to comply with anti- money laundering and terrorist financing provisions.

16. While regulation of SEDPE will be similar to that of commercial banks and supervision by the SFC is expected to be intrusive, other business advantages will attract mobile operators, money transfer companies, and others players. The Financial Regulation Unit (FRU) at the Ministry of Finance is expected to clarify soon the regulatory issues related to banking correspondents, electronic deposit, interoperability, equity/deposit ratio and liquidity management to allow operators to develop sustainable solutions, taking into account their ability, and the needs of their clients. The forthcoming legislation will ensure that the SEDPE operate in accordance principles of security and soundness to safeguard funds and preserve financial stability. The main advantages for these institutions and the attractiveness to will be increased transactionality and geographical capillarity that will enable wider reach of services and lower costs with high potential for expansions in some areas—such as remittances currently provided by postal services—and across the lower-middle-income population. Licensing of SEDPE should thus engender more competition in the financial sector, which will directly affect some financial inclusion barriers, such as participation costs and intermediation efficiency.

Developing Products Targeted to the Unbanked—Mobile Banking, Microcredit and Microinsurance

17. Mobile banking is closely linked to electronic money issuers and is expected to spread out more forcefully with the recent licensing of SEDPE. Colombian regulatory provisions already encourage financial institutions to provide mobile banking services when meeting minimum security requirements. As mobile operators continue to penetrate the financial services market they will become both component suppliers of communication services to other financial institutions as well as their competitors at the financial services level. Mobile banking can foster the use of financial services for households through improved product design taking into account specific customer needs. Statistics show that the number of transactions using mobile banking has been growing significantly, by about 30 percent over 2014, on top of a more than two-fold increase during 2013.10

Table 1.

Financial Inclusion Progress - Highlights

(Units, unless otherwise indicated)

article image
Sources: Superintendencie Financiera, Banca de las Oportunidades, and Central de Informacion Financiera.

18. Microcredit disbursements have been growing at an average annual rate of 18 percent during the last three years, stimulated by the lifting of the microcredit interest rate cap from 34 percent to 50 percent. There are over 1.5 million microcredit debtors, representing a penetration of only 5 percent of the adult population. Microcredit now accounts for about 3 percent of the gross lending portfolio of formal banking institutions. The regulatory framework for microcredit is being strengthened to consolidate the achievements made in this area. To bring into the financial system the currently unbanked population the Decree 2654 of 2014 created a new type of uncollateralized consumer credit of low amount (up to two minimum wages) and up to 3 years of maturity, and established the bank rate for this modality.11


Balance of Microcredit Portfolio

(Billions of COL $)

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2015, 143; 10.5089/9781513546261.002.A006

Souce: Banca de las Opportunidades.

19. A regulatory and supervision system is in the making this year to implement and promote microinsurance. Through the consultancy carried out under Access to Insurance Initiative (A2ii) the SFC has been making efforts at the policy level, through an agreement with the German Federal Government agency (GIZ) and Banca de las Oportunidades, to promote the supply of efficient and inclusive microinsurance products in line with high consumer protection standards. Progress was made in defining the roadmap for promoting inclusive insurance through a country diagnostic and setting specific objectives for the regulatory and supervisory framework. Meanwhile, a joint initiative with the FRU has led to the issuance of a Decree allowing bank correspondents to place insurance products in remote locations.

Strengthening Collateral—Implementing the Movable Property Registry

20. The movable property registry has the potential to directly increase access to credit by SMEs. Movable property (such as machinery, equipment or receivables) generally represents a higher share of assets of SMEs that are also more constrained financially. It was recently found that the likelihood of a firm obtaining credit increases when a movable property registry is introduced by 7-8 percentage points on average and even more so for smaller firms. Also, the cost of financing tends to decline and the maturity of loans increases (Love et al., 2013). Reforms to movable property laws that eliminated limits on what can serve as collateral in China (2007), Ghana (2010), Mexico (2011) and Vietnam (2007) also allowed creditors to seize and sell collateral privately or through summary proceedings and gave secured creditors first priority that they can verify through an electronic archive (Standard Charted, 2015). Out of 47 SSA countries 22 have implemented new secured transactions legislation and registries.

21. Colombia has adopted a new secured transactions law that establishes a functional secured transactions system and a centralized, notice-based collateral registry. The law has broadened the range of assets that can be used as collateral, and allows a general description of assets granted as collateral. It establishes clear priority rules inside bankruptcy for secured creditors, sets out grounds for relief in enforcement actions by secured creditors during reorganization procedures and allows out-of-court enforcement of collateral (World Bank, 2015). The framework also incorporates a scheme for an expeditious execution of guarantees which is one of its most important features. The use of movable property as collateral against credit is expected to improve the risk profile of the borrowers, thus lowering borrowing costs and extending loans maturities. The implementation of the movable property registry has also a strong potential for including individual consumers into formal finance and providing collateral for consumption credit.

22. One year into implementation, the movable property registry can claim over a million records for a total loan value of Col$200 trillion. Newly registered claims on assets are only a quarter of total guarantees, however, given that the majority is constituted of existing claims that were “migrated” away from the local chambers of commerce to the centralized virtual registry following the introduction of the new Law. Less than 1 percent of new and old records, corresponding to a loan value of about 4 percent of total, represent guarantees to SMEs. The registry includes about 1,000 creditors, nearly half of which are registered domestic or foreign companies, mostly commercial entities, banks and other financing companies, followed by funds and leasing companies. The remaining users are individual domestic and foreign creditors. In terms on value, approximately Col$85 trillion (40 percent of total registered claims) consists of motor vehicles while the remaining part consist of claims on a large variety of items such as households appliances, rice, fish cultures, voluntary savings and pensions, and others.

23. The movable property registry is expected to contribute to financial inclusion more substantially in the very near future. The introduction of the centralized registry has lowered transaction costs for accessing information on guarantees that was previously spread out across the 57 chambers of commerce.12 The fixed cost of a record was also lowered considerable and amounts now to only 15 U.S. dollars, independent of the value of collateral. However, access by SMEs has only been marginal so far and individual borrowing has mostly been ascribed to consumer finance. The forthcoming regulation will shorten the execution period of guarantees from 1,500 to 90 days. This, together with SFC’s efforts to develop methodologies for facilitating collateral appraisal, could in turn increase banks’ acceptance of a wider range of assets as collateral for lending, greatly benefiting financial inclusion of new borrowers and those enterprises whose collateral value did not appeal to formal creditors until now.


Registry of Guarantees, Dec 2014

(Percent of total)

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2015, 143; 10.5089/9781513546261.002.A006

Source: Confecamaras.

Fostering Financial Education

24. A large number of institutions in the country are working to upgrade financial education through numerous initiatives. Financial education is one of the main pillars of the new financial inclusion national plan in Colombia, launched in 2014. The Intersectoral Committee on Financial Education acts as a forum for policy coordination on Financial Inclusion but the private sector is also engaged in providing assistance with banks offering more transparent information on products, services and their costs on-line.13 The SFC actively engages with the Intersectoral Committee and has developed a variety of instruments to promote learning: (i) an on-line course called “Provision of information and advice for the financial consumer” is widely promoted through the SENA; (ii) the Superlandia web portal is targeted to children and teenagers; (iii) the Superfinanzas game aims to promote financial education; and (iv) Aprende Mós tests administered by Asobancaria will include a module on financial education and will contribute to improved measurement of financial capabilities. In addition, the SFC permanently posts on its website information relevant to consumers and offers updated tools to allow comparison between different financial products, such as the rates’ simulator.14 The SFC is also developing a framework for monitoring financial education programs and information in supervised entities. SFC has participated in presentations open to the general public. The central bank also participates in these initiatives and some of the programs it supports include graduate courses on economics and contests for high school students on various essay topics. A massive campaign targeted at poor municipalities and carried out through local television, radio, and theater performances is also currently underway and it portrays responsible budgeting (borrowing and saving) and use of insurance products for management of risks. An impact evaluation of this campaign will take place by the end of this year.

25. On other fronts, the authorities are also developing guidance materials for financial education dedicated to the school system. The first stage will be piloted the material at primary education level in some municipalities and will later roll it out to the rest of the country and through secondary education. Financial planning tools allowing comparing a variety of fees and charges applied to financial products. Moreover, a consultancy carried out with the Andean Development Corporation is expected to establish a methodology for monitoring financial education and information programs implemented by institutions subject to supervision, and measure their impact.

26. The effect of these initiatives may have time to bear fruit but financial education has a vast potential for promoting formal finance. Like other instructional programs, financial education takes time to develop, and be assimilated into the society, while its effects may take a long time to reveal. However, financial education may crowd the unbanked into the formal financial sector more than any other strategy, in particular for those segments of the population who are currently making use of informal finance (as shown in our regressions). However, financial education will also enhance the knowledge of those already using formal products, and allow them to make sound financial choices, which will ultimately contribute to making the financial system even more stable than today.

D. Conclusion

27. The study of informal finance suggests that financial education and schooling are both important for fostering formal finance use. People with tertiary education and those with higher financial education scores are less likely to use informal financial channels. Thus, Colombia’s financial education efforts, as one of the main area of focus in the financial inclusion strategy, must be praised; they not only allow increasing access to finance but also equip users with tools for making sound financial choices from which everyone will ultimately benefit. Labor formalization and income growth are also significant determinants of formal finance, while physical presence of financial institutions matters especially for the financial inclusion of those segments of the population who occasionally run out of money for basic needs. Yet, distance may have becomes less of an obstacle to those using finance for entrepreneurship given that Colombia has substantially increased the density of formal finance providers.

28. As the authorities move to implement their second generation financial inclusion policies, current households surveys should be expanded. To provide input into the financial inclusion policy design the IEFIC should be administered at the national level and become part of the global households survey—the GEIH. The survey should be also expanded to include questions directed at understanding the reasons behind financial choices and the obstacles to accessing formal finance. The information collected across the country would also help gauge better the overall households indebtedness of the unbanked population which tends to be poor. To allow assessing the effect of ongoing financial inclusion initiatives, it would be moreover important designing the surveys in a way to track individual households’ behavior across time. This would also make possible evaluating informal finance’s role in smoothing households consumption over time when affected by income shocks. The authorities are already acting upon the need to understand better the demand side of financial inclusion and, with the help of a market research association, Banca de las Opportunidades and the SFC are generating a new survey that will more directly explore the nature of informal finance in Colombia already by the end of this year.

29. Policies supporting improvement in the regulatory flexibility—such as, for instance, simplifying account opening—and policies to enhance consumer protection, are also contributing to lowering the formal financial sector participation cost in a more substantial way. As the implementation of the movable property registry gains ground, acceptance of a wider range of collateral by banks will facilitate access to finance by SMEs, supporting financial inclusion and growth.

Appendix 1. Regression Results

Financial Capabilities Survey Regression Results

Table 1.

Informal Finance - Probit Results

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Standard errors in parentheses* p<0.1, ** p<0.05, *** p<0.01Source: Financial Capabilities Survey (The World Bank); and Fund staff estimates.
Table 2.

Informal Finance - Marginal Effects

article image
Standard errors in parentheses* p<0.1, ** p<0.05, *** p<0.01
Table 3.

Informal Finance

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Standard errors in parentheses* p<0.1, ** p<0.05, *** p<0.01Source: Financial capabilities Survey (The World Bank); and Fund staff estimates.

IEFIC-GEIH Survey Regression Results

Table 4.

Informal Finance (IEFIC) - Probit Results

article image
Standard errors in parentheses* p<0.1, ** p<0.05, *** p<0.01Source: IEFIC Survey (DANE); and Fund staff estimates.
Table 5.

Informal Finance (IEFIC) - Probit Results

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Prepared by Izabela Karpowicz and Zulima Leal (both WHD). We are grateful for comments from Valerie Cerra, Robert Rennhack (both WHD), Pamela Cardozo Ortiz (Banrep, Colombia), and Jorge Castano Gutierrez (SFC, Colombia). For fruitful discussions and data we are indebted to David Salamanca (Financial Regulation Unit at the Ministry of Finance, Colombia) Sergio Renjifo (Confecamaras, Colombia), Nidia Reyes and Juliana Alvarez (both Banca de las Oportunidades, Colombia).


Cano et al. (2014) study the use of financial services in Colombia in an OLS and QMLE regression framework. Reddy et al. (2013) use OLS and simple correlations to study financial capabilities and financial knowledge.


This is in line with a study on financial knowledge and financial capabilities in Colombia, also based on the Financial Capabilities Survey, according to which informal sector workers are more frequent users than formal workers of informal credit and microcredit entities (Reddy et al., 2013).


The opposing universe includes only individuals who do not use informal finance within a group of people who run out of money for basic needs.


However, distance is significant only at 10 percent level and the coefficient is rather small.


Although accounting for population density physical presence of formal financial institution may not be significantly smaller, income and infrastructure barriers make access to formal finance more difficult outside of the capital.


These results are significant at 1 percent level and robust across various specifications.


The SEDPE can be established by individuals or legal entities, with a minimum capital requirement of COP$3 million in 2014 (as opposed to COP$35 million required for a traditional commercial banking license), and can receive capital investments from commercial banks and financial corporations (Financial Inclusion Law 1735 of 2014). These requirements are higher than elsewhere in the region.


Mobile phone penetration was 98 percent in 2011.


Resolution 2259 of 2014.


In the past registration was subject to levies that in some cases could amount to several hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars (for instance, in the case of expensive equipment used in the hydrocarbon sector).


The Committee includes the following members or their delegates: the Minister of Finance; the Minister of Education; the Financial Superintendant; the Cooperative Sector Superintendent; the director of the National Planning Department; the director of the Deposit Insurance Fund of Financial Institutions; the director of the Deposit Insurance Fund of the Cooperative sector; and the director of Financial Regulation Unit of the Ministry of Finance.


This tool allows the customer to define an approximate value of the financial service according to use criteria, search historical price information, and to consult comparative tables for savings accounts and credit cards. The information is published quarterly.

Colombia: Selected Issues Paper
Author: International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.