Mass Market Credit in Seven Leading Latin American Cities

June 2008

Dr. Ed Brown, Dr. Jon Cloke and Professor Peter Taylor


Access to basic financial instruments like bank and savings accounts, debit and credit cards, housing credit and small business loans is largely taken for granted in wealthier nations. This study, focusing on seven cities in Latin America, confirms the findings of the considerable amount of earlier research: lack of access to these services and the failure to develop adequate financial sectors is likely a major cause of the continuing economic vulnerability of these areas.

Average and below-average income households and micro-, small and medium sized businesses operate with almost no access to basic financial services in Latin America. The end result is that nearly all of the metropolitan areas studied are only utilizing a small fraction of their native entrepreneurial potential. Of course, these households and businesses represent enormous economic potential. They are also eager for credit and able to repay.

Today, this potential remains mostly untapped by the formal financial services industry. Nonetheless, developing locally-relevant financial services—not those based on the inappropriate U.S. and European banking models—holds much promise for the creation of strong national economies.


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