CBN: Poor Macroeconomy Constrained Financial Inclusion Strategy in 2015

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James Emejo in Abuja

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said existing macroeconomic conditions provided a less favourable environment for financial inclusion developments in 2015 than in previous years.

Nevertheless, it said in spite of lower economic growth, many financial inclusion initiatives managed to progress in the period under review. Specifically, it noted that despite modest achievements so far recorded, gaps still existed between the actually achieved values and the targets set for 2015 for several key performance indicators.

The apex bank stated in its 2015 Annual Report on National Financial Inclusion Strategy, which was obtained from its website, that the current economic situation, particularly the low oil price, fiscal constraint and limited economic growth failed to provide the most favourable environment for financial inclusion to thrive.

However, it maintained that “financial inclusion is a driver of economic development and as such, all stakeholders need to commit more resources to the implementation plans.”

While the number of electronic payment transaction accounts increased by 5.3 million or 7.8 per cent from 2014 to 2015, it was not clear whether the target of 53 per cent of the Nigerian adult population having and using an electronic payment product was reached.

“This is mainly because of a lack of unique identification of customers across financial institutions and data constraints as at December 2015,” it stated.

Among other things, the report recommended further commitment to financial inclusion targets; enhance financial inclusion database and focus on dispersion in deployment of financial access points.

According to the report, the number of savings-related accounts increased by 5.6 million or 7.8 per cent in 2015 compared to the previous year adding that “It is not clear whether the 2015 target was achieved because of the issue of a lack of unique identification of customers and data constraints at the time of writing.”

The CBN also stated that the number of credit accounts increased by approximately 380,000 from 6.9 to 7.2 million from 2014 to 2015, representing a growth of 5.6 per cent.

Notwithstanding, it said “While this increase is positive, the target of 26 per cent of the adult population using a credit product at a formal financial institution was not achieved.”

The report further stated that the number of adult Nigerians registered with a regulated pension scheme increased by about 770,000 to 7.3 million in 2015. The percentage of adult Nigerians registered in a regulated pension scheme went up from 7.0 to 7.6 per cent over the period under review.

It stressed that “While the trend is positive, the 2015 target of 22 per cent enrollment of adult Nigerians was not achieved.”

Nigeria committed to financial inclusion development in the Maya Declaration, which was adopted in Riviera Maya, Mexico, in 2011. The commitment was to develop and pursue a financial inclusion strategy that would reduce the adult financial exclusion rate from 46.3 per cent in 2010 to 20 per cent by 2020.

According to the apex bank, the National Financial Inclusion Strategy was launched on October 23, 2012 with specific targets for products, including payments, savings, credit, insurance, and pensions, as well as channels as Wells’s commercial bank branches, microfinance bank branches, ATMs, POS devices, and agents.

Additional targets were defined for key enablers of financial inclusion, including Know Your Customer identification, financial literacy, consumer protection, women initiatives and children and youth initiatives.