The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has expressed worry that a large number of Nigerians are financially excluded and are without bank accounts. This it said, negates its financial inclusion drive to bring in more Nigerians into the financial sector and boost cashless transactions.
According to the apex bank, in 2010, it set a target to reduce the number of financially excluded Nigerians from 46 per cent in 2010 to 20 per cent in 2020, but only succeeded in reducing the number to 41 per cent as at the last count in 2018, which is a five per cent reduction in 8 years.
The statistics, according to CBN, puts Nigeria as a nation that still operates with large volume of physical cash for financial transactions.
Although CBN said that it might be a difficult task for Nigeria to achieve the 20 per cent reduction in financial exclusion by 2020, given that the number of Nigerians that are financially excluded is still on the high side, the financial regulator however expressed optimism that the 20 per cent target could be achieved, if all the necessary measures are fully implemented.
One of the Directors at CBN, Musa Jimoh, who represented CBN’s Director of Banking and Payment Systems, Dipo Fatokun, raised the concern at the 2018 Digital PayExpo, organised by Intermarc Consulting in Lagos on Tuesday.
Jimoh identified high cost of transaction, distance of bank customers and complexities in the financial system as some of the major barriers impeding financial inclusion in Nigeria. To address the situation, he said CBN introduced supper agent banking and planned to raise additional 500,000 supper agent network by 2020 that will be closer to the grassroots in driving financial inclusion in rural communities.
Executive Director, Business Development at Diamond Bank, one of the major sponsors of Digital PayExpo, Mrs. Chizoma Okoli, in her presentation said Diamond bank partnered MTN Nigeria to introduce the Diamond Y’ello Account, which was designed to bring more Nigerians into the financial circle. She said in less than two years of the introduction of Diamond Y’ello Account, the bank registered over 10 million accounts. Other products introduced by Diamond Bank according to Okoli, are the Diamond Beta account and ADA, which allows customers to interact with robotics and could open bank accounts, initiate bill payments, and buy airtime for customers.
Using Kenya as a benchmark for financial inclusion, the Managing Director, Microsave in Kenya, Mr. Isaac Ondieki, tasked regulators to come up with policy and implementation measures that would address trust among the people, in order to achieve financial inclusion.
Ondieki who presented a paper on ‘The Risk and Fraud Perspective to Financial Inclusion’, addressed the areas of real and perceived risks in financial inclusion. He listed factors like trust, poor training, poor awareness, inadequate consumer protection, complexities in payment system as some of the perceived risks that could mar financial inclusion and support financial fraud.
Managing Director of Intermarc Consulting and convener of Digital PayExpo, Mr. Adeyinka Adeyemi said: “Digital PayExpo is designed as an inclusive series addressing different segments of digital financial services with focus on how much services can leverage on technology to bring access to the grassroots.