‘Digital Financial Services Will Reduce Number of Unbanked Nigerians’

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Emma Okonji

The Chief Executive Officer of Global Accelerex, Mr. Tunde Ogungbade has stressed the need for digital financial services to be pushed to all adult Nigerians with mobile devices, explaining that it will further help to reduce the number of adult Nigerians that are still unbanked, in line with the vision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to make Nigeria a cashless economy.

Ogungbade who stated this during the third quarterly seminar organised by the Nigerian Information Technology Reporters’ Association (NITRA) in Lagos recently, said since the introduction of cashless economy in 2012, adult Nigerians who hitherto had no bank account, are beginning to see the need to become financially inclusive in the drive to make Nigeria a cashless society.

Ogungbade who delivered the keynote paper at the NITRA Third Quarterly Forum, titled ‘Digital Payment: Prospects and Challenges of a Financially Inclusive Nigeria’, said the percentage of adult Nigerians that do not have access to financial services has continued to reduce from 46.3 per cent in 2010 and 39.7 per cent in 2012, and predicted that it would further drop to 20 per cent in 2020, should government continue to stress the need for Nigerians to embrace digital financial services.

He said 70 per cent of adult Nigerian’s should have access to payment services in 2020, and that 60 per cent should be able to have access to savings and 40 per cent each to credit, insurance and pensions in 2020.
He commended the wide acceptance of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), which he said, has increased the use of digitalised payment from 11.49 per cent in 2012 to 16.73 per cent in 2016 per 100, 000 adults.

He added added that the situation had also led to the reduction of the number of physical bank branches from 5.81 per cent in 2012, to 5.36 per cent in 2016 per 100, 000 adults.

According to him, the mobile money report also showed there had been level of adoption in digitalised mobile money payment, indicating 34.26 per cent per 1000 adults.

Citing the Central Bank of Nigeria National Financial Inclusion Strategy source, he predicted that the channels through which people could have access the services such as branches of banks, microfinance banks, number of ATMs, mobile agents, POS, agents of deposit money banks are also expected to increase to specified target numbers per 100,000 adults in 2020.

While discussing strategies to further achieve financial inclusion, Ogungbade said: “There are three major stakeholders in the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS), which include financial and technology providers; the enablers such as the regulators and public institutions responsible for setting regulations and policies in respect of financial inclusion; and the partners and experts who are supporters of Nigeria in meeting its economic objectives and delivering on their technical assistance mandates.”

According to him, all the these stakeholders must come together in the execution of the strategies to tackle financial inclusion in Nigeria.

“Government, banks and other financial services would need to move away from the attitude of viewing the objective behind financial inclusion as a national social responsibility but should begin to look at it more as a profitable business opportunity and an enabler of development,” Ogungbade added.

Divisional Head, Electronic Banking at Fidelity Bank, Ifeoma Onibuje, gave insight how the bank is making efforts to bank the unbanked, using technology solutions that are flexible and customer friendly. She spoke on the introduction of the Quick Response Code (QR Code), which is a machine readable code, consisting of features used for storing readable information that could be captured and interpreted by the camera on a smartphone device, designed to make digital payment across all channels, relatively easier for the customers. According to her, Fidelity bank is catching up with technology to provide services that will bring on board, all the unbanked in the urban and rural communities, in line with the financial inclusiveness drive of the CBN.