The Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFInA) and the British High Commission to Nigeria are set to support Nigeria’s financial inclusion drive through the support of FinTech across several hubs.
Both bodies, last week, held an interactive session with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and financial industry stakeholders in Lagos to power financial inclusion in Nigeria, where EFInA announced the winners of its $2 million Fintech Challenge Grant.
FinTech companies announced as winners of the $2 million Fintech Challenge Fund included CredPal, Capricom Digital, RIBY, SmartTeller, ExtraMile Africa and Social Lender.
The event themed ‘Powering Financial Inclusion through Fintech’, focused on exploring methods and activities to grow the ecosystem through increased funding and enhanced regulatory harmony.
EFInA’s Board Chairman, Mr. Segun Akerele, said with over $250 million in cumulative funding and about 200 active FinTech ventures operating in the digital retail payments, lending and payments infrastructure spaces, the Nigerian industry remained one of the most active in the world. He however expressed his worries that 36.8 per cent of Nigerian adults were still excluded from the formal economy and basic financial services, even though they have access to mobile phones.
Emphasising the importance of collaboration to enhance financial inclusion in the country, the Chief Executive Officer of EFInA, Mr. Esaie Diei, explained that several organisations were working to ensure that CBN’s 2020 National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) to reduce financial exclusion to 20 per cent in 2020 remains achievable.
The objectives of the EFInA Fintech Challenge Fund are to provide financial services that are accessible to everyone especially the low-income segment, improve customer experience, enhance the transparency of financial services and increase the adoption of financial services with reliable, valuable and affordable products, he said.
Head, Digital Financial Services at CBN, Mr. Stephen Ambore, said: “The CBN’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy is directly intended to create a level playing field that focuses on driving collaborative activities among actors while also adopting a risk-based approach.
“So with the single goal of ensuring that eight in ten Nigerians are financially included by 2020, all stakeholders have to play strongly to achieve high impact. With the regulatory framework provided by the Central Bank, we all also need to facilitate stronger collaboration among stakeholders to create innovative financial products and services.”
Unveiling EFInA’s Global and Nigerian Fintech Landscape Survey Report, Head of Innovation at EFInA, Dayo Ademola, explained that successful FinTech industries across the world had mainly focused on factors such as product innovation, strategic partnerships, physical and digital mix, and also lowering barriers to services.
Congratulating EFInA and winners of the Fintech challenge grant, the British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Laure Beaufils, commended the organisation, as she explained that Nigeria remains central in United Kingdom’s objectives to accelerate financial inclusion in Africa.
“EFInA’s excellent work to promote the sector in Nigeria is good for the grantees, good for Nigeria and good for the UK. A well run grant scheme with worthy grantees is a great start – but it can only do so much. EFInA and its partners will now have to work hard with firms and regulators to create the safest, strongest and most enabling environment for good ideas to flourish,” she said.