Experts Seek Improved Financial Inclusion Drive


By Emma Okonji

Financial experts have stressed the need for digital device manufacturers and software solution developers among to demystify all digital devices in the quest to enhance financial inclusion.

The need for demystified solutions, according to them, would facilitate widespread adoption of online transactions in both rural and urban communities, and thus boost the financial inclusion drive of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

They made the call at the ongoing Digital PayExpo 2019 conference organised by Intermarc Consulting.
Managing Director, Intermarc Consulting, Jacqueline Jumah, in her welcome address, said providers of financial inclusion services must always strive to create value for bank customers and meet their individual needs that drove their interests to become financially inclusive, rather than growing volume of financial inclusive persons.

According to Jumah, “Despite many transformative innovations and initiatives in driving financial inclusion and increasing adoption levels among customers, regular account activity remains a challenge at 36 per cent activity levels.

“There appears to be a greater focus on increasing the number of included customers rather than a focus on the user experience and innovation that drives adoption and the long-term account usage, especially for middle and low-income segments.”

She explained that service providers therefore lose out on profitability by failing to optimise the customer value proposition, which she said had caused increasing concerns as to whether financial inclusion is sustainable, or whether financial service providers can deliver financial inclusion through commercially viable businesses.

She, however said transformative innovations in technology could drastically drive presence and scale when offering financial services, opening doors to the unbanked and underbanked populations. The tremendous role that digital financial services (DFS) could play for financial inclusion is well welcome around the globe and regulators have continuously sought to unlock this potential by creating evolving enabling environments, Jumah said.

Citing the global financial index database 2017, which shows that 515 million adults worldwide opened an account at a financial institution or through a mobile money provider between 2014 and 2017, Jumah said: “This means that 69 per cent of adults now have an account, up from 62 per cent in 2014 and 51 per cent in 2011. In high-income economies 94 per cent of adults have an account; in developing economies only 63 per cent do.

“The vast majority of account owners have an account at a bank, a microfinance institution, or another type of regulated financial institution. sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where the share of adults with a mobile money account exceeds10 per cent.”

Global CEO, PalmPay, United Kingdom, Greg Reeve, one of the keynote speakers, said smartphone manufactures and software applications developers for financial services must keep their solutions simple in the manner that rural dwellers, who form the bulk of financial excluded adult Nigerians, could use the smartphone devices and the software application that run on them with ease.

Speaking on the topic Mobility: How FinTech Initiatives Are Driving Financial Services Innovation, Reeve said FinTech players were already challenging the status quo in Nigeria, and encouraged them to do more, to enable banks meet the 80 per cent financial inclusion target of CBN by 2020.

“Our vision is to meaningfully impact financial inclusion in Nigeria, and since we launched our services in Nigeria this month, we have been building a business that will help millions of people advance their lives and be part of the country’s financial inclusion drive,” Reeve said.