As part of efforts to promote financial inclusion Nigeria, Ecobank Nigeria, 9mobile, Vanguard Newspapers and other stakeholders in the financial sector recently brainstormed on how to actualise the cashless policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The virtual forum which was organised by Ecobank and Vanguard Newspaper had as its theme: “Mobile Payment Innovation and Closing the Financial Inclusion Gap – post Covid-19.”
Representing the apex bank, Director of Payment Systems at the Central Bank of Nigeria, Jimoh Musa, stated that Nigeria has made a commitment to reduce the number of financially excluded from 46 per cent to 20 per cent.
He emphasised that the idea and strategy of the CBN to introduce agent banking and mobile money was to solve the inclusion access and proximity issues.
“One of the things that we found was that it was very difficult for people in the rural communities to have access to financial touch-points to the extent that people in the rural communities would have to travel for 10 to 20 minutes to get to the nearest financial touch-point,” he added.
According to the Managing Director/Regional Executive of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Patrick Akinwuntan, Nigeria’s population of over 200 million people underscores the unique potential inherent in harnessing the financial inclusion drive.
He said, “essentially, the most critical task for us is how we can move from the narrative of using financial inclusion for poverty alleviation to providing wealth creation and gainful economic engagement with the largest pool of participants in the economy.”
In his contribution, the CEO of 9mobile, Alan Sinfield, stated that the telecom company was continually exploring opportunities to bring creative solutions to Nigerians.
“9PSB provides an excellent opportunity to further pursue this commitment to serve more people in a manner that improves their quality of life,” he explained, adding that, “we are confident that 9PSB will also stimulate savings and investments as more liquidity is mobilised from the informal sector into the mainstream financial system. This will translate into increased economic activities in the informal sector and the overall economy.”
Sinfield stated further that there was need for collaborations and partnerships to achieve more inclusion.
“We are willing to partner with financial institutions to reach out to the unbanked and under-banked population in Nigeria. Telcos in Nigeria have some customer data advantage that Nigeria’s financial institutions can benefit from to deepen their penetration. Even though banking started long before mobile telecommunications, there are more active mobile lines than active bank accounts,” the telco chief said.