The launch and growth of digital financial services has led to an unprecedented increase in the number of people enjoying access to formal financial services, experts have said.
They noted that Africa was becoming home to more digital financial services deployments than any other region in the world, with almost half of the nearly 700 million individual users worldwide.
Mobile money solutions and agent banking now offer affordable, instant, and reliable transactions, savings, credit, and even insurance opportunities in rural villages and urban neighbourhoods where no bank had ever established a branch.
The experts said this at the Future Banking Tech West Africa Summit.
The two-day events which is holding in Lagos, ends today.
The summit brought to the fore the voices of Africa’s financial services industry leaders, as well as technology experts to offer deep and thoughtful analysis for everyone working in this area of international development.
The Director of the Future Banking Tech West Africa Summit, Khalila Baldwin said: “Financial inclusion is a means to an end. It is a catalyst for equitable development and inclusive economic growth.
Our ambition at the summit for Financial Inclusion has always been to improve the capacity of the financial sector to better serve all people in Africa, and to share the lessons learned from those efforts with the global development community.
“By working with pioneers of low-cost financial services across the continent to introduce and discuss new technological approaches and innovative business models, we have highlighted both the opportunities and the challenges in furthering financial inclusion.”
According to a statement, field studies showed that access to mobile money services has increased daily per capita consumption levels of households, lifting them out of extreme poverty.
It noted that mobile money services have changed lives – for example, helping women to move from subsistence farming to business occupations and sustainable livelihoods.
“In total, 7.2 million new digital financial services users on the continent, 45,000 new banking agents, and $300 million in monthly transactions.
“Africa’s financial services landscape continues its dynamic evolution as the rapid growth of FinTech on the continent drives both the disruption and leapfrogging of legacy systems and further accelerates the digital transformation of financial services.
“In Nigeria, the major banks are rapidly ramping-up their own innovation strategies and collaborating with new game-changing start-ups to drive efficiencies, make digital profitable and capture new markets.
“A decade after mobile phones began to spread in Africa, they have become commonplace even in the continent’s poorest countries,” the statement added.
It showed that in 2016 two-fifths of people in sub-Saharan Africa had mobile phones. Their rapid spread has beaten all sorts of odds. In most African countries, less than half the population has access to electricity.