The Role of Awareness Based Communication for Financial Inclusion: The Banking System in Focus

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As part of top priority in the development plan, the Ethiopian Government launched National Financial Inclusion Strategy in 2017 with the aim of bringing the unbanked segment of the society to the banking system. This study investigates the role of communication for financial inclusion with particular focus on the banking system. The research used a qualitative approach employing mainly in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and secondary data analysis. Through this analysis the researcher was able to identify the visible awareness gap that exists on the consumer side particularly with consumers residing in rural areas regarding bank products and services of the commercial banks. On the contrary, urban adults were more likely to own commercial bank account. The study also found that women had generally less aware of financial services the banks offer. In addition to financial literacy gaps, having no enough money to save, were also another reason for not having a bank account. It was found out that the commercial banks highly focus on advertisement and promotion as ways of reaching out to potential customers rather than awareness-based communication. Even with the advertising and promotion tasks, they seemed to target more of the educated urban adult instated of bringing the unbanked segment of the rural adult to the banking system. They focused on deepening their urban market rather than expanding and including the unbanked segment of the society. There were few attempts to conduct communication campaigns and house-to-house communication in rural areas. It appears that the banks need to do a lot more in terms of creating financial awareness. A comprehensive communication strategy targeting long-term results should be developed and implemented.