WHAT FACTORS INFLUENCE INDIVIDUALS’ LEVEL OF ENGAGEMENT IN A BANKING RELATIONSHIP IN JORDAN?
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In a study (NFIS 2018-2019), conducted by the Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) in cooperation with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, it was reported that 67% of people in Jordan above the age of 15 years do not have access to the formal financial system in terms of bank account ownership; 38.0% of adults are excluded from any formal financial services and 24.8% of adults are completely excluded from any formal and informal financial services. Only 33% of adults in Jordan, 27% of women, are financially included in terms of bank account ownership, which is a low percentage when compared to other countries with the same income level. The low level of access to the formal financial system is presented in the low percentages of bank account ownership and is reflected in the low engagement in the financial system by the adult population in Jordan. This low level of engagement has severe consequences on the economy in general and on the banking sector in particular. The primary aim of this research is to determine the main antecedents (individual and social factors) that influence individuals’ level of engagement in a banking relationship in Jordan. The factors explored are age, income, education, economy, economic knowledge, financial literacy, financial technology, and trust, in addition to gender. Identifying and understanding the role of these factors would assist in explaining the reasons behind the low level of individuals’ engagement with the banking system in Jordan and suggest means and tools of intervention to support greater financial engagement. Further, exploring the influence of ‘Gender’ on the above factors and examining the influence of financial literacy in enhancing the level of individuals’ behavioural engagement towards the banking relationship are of particular focus in this research. The research study investigated a non-probability sample of 542 individuals to obtain a broad view on the individual and social factors that influence individuals’ level of engagement in a banking relationship. The target population included Jordanians living in the largest eight cities of Jordan. The data collection strategy involved a survey using a questionnaire as the instrument for data collection. The questionnaire was prepared in both English and Arabic and distributed via social media networks and in person. VI The research is theory driven thus, a deductive approach to theory development was followed subject to rigorous testing. The Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) is the base theory underpinning this research that assumes a social reality and provides a basis of explanation indicating causal relationships. Several hypotheses were developed and then data collected were analysed using a quantitative approach. The research employs Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modelling method (referred to as PLS path modeling) which is a popular method for estimating complex path models with latent variables and their relationships. This method is used for investigating cause effects interactions between constructs and variables and is suitable for both theory building and testing. The findings confirmed that the main independent factors that affect individuals’ financial behaviour reflected in the level of engagement in a banking relationship in Jordan are economic knowledge, age, income, financial literacy, economy, financial technology, and trust. The findings also identified the important influence of financial literacy on financial behaviour and pointed out the different effects of the independent factors on males versus females. Supported by the Multi Group Analysis results, the findings indicated that economic knowledge is the strongest independent factor for females that affects all their three core factors attitude, perceived behavioural control and social norms. Thus, any intervention to improve females’ economic knowledge would positively, significantly, and strongly affect their financial behaviour and improve the level of engagement in a banking relationship in Jordan. As for economy and income, the findings reflected a significant effect for males only on the social norms but had no effect on females. The findings have both theoretical and practical implications whereby the results provide empirical evidence on the indirect impact of individual and social factors on the financial behavioural decision. The results can serve as an indication in practice for bank managers, regulators, and policy makers in developing key products and services to attract individuals and thus achieve the goal of financial inclusion of more engagement levels of the Jordanian population with personal banking relationships and services.