How Nigerian MFBs Use Digital Strategies To Deepen Financial Inclusion


Wednesday, January 01, 2020 / 9.00AM / Bukola Akinyele for Proshare WebTV / Header Image Credit: WebTV


As Digital technology continues to shape the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), local Nigerian microfinance institutions have identified opportunities to scale up their operations.


At the 2019 Accion, financial inclusion seminar panelists discussed how MFBs could leverage the robust ecosystem of digital financial services, that can provide the platform for them to achieve a leap in their operations.


From financial inclusion to reaching the unbanked population in the rural areas, microfinance institutions can boost economic activities and deepen the financial market.


Ophelia Ama Oni, Director of Partnerships, Financial Inclusion Forum emphasized the need for systemic changes in the way microfinance banks operate, by deploying technology to onboard more customers, by utilizing services like the USSD to open more accounts for people, without them coming into the banking halls.


According to her, new financial services touch areas of customer experience leading to customer acquisition and transaction remodelling.


She believed mobile phones could serve as tools for enhancing agency banking, which would, in turn, accelerate financial inclusion in the country.


Speaking further, she expressed optimism that with the advent of digital technology, microfinance institutions in Nigeria had the opportunity to provide cutting edge services to their customers and come up with innovative products for the financial market.


The  Head,  Consumer Distribution Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Stanley Jacob noted that the non-traditional financial market players have been able to unbundle the activities of the traditional institutions, through areas such as savings, loans, and other investments and have offered customers services in a simplified and cheaper manner through digital platforms.


"For Microfinance Institutions to operate better, they must embrace partnerships in order to be able to deliver all the required services and leverage the roles that the Telcos, Fintechs and other non-bank players have created" Stanley Jacob said.


The Head, Consumer Distribution Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Stanley Jacob noted that the non-traditional players have been able to unbundle the activities of the traditional role such as savings, loans, and other investments and offer them in a more simplify and cheap through digital.


"For Microfinance Institutions to improve operations, they must adopt technical partnerships to deliver their services and use platforms that Telco's, Fintechs and other non-bank players have created," he said.


The Chief Digital & Innovations Officer GTBank, Mr. Deji Oguntonade listed the following as what Microfinance Institutions should do to survive in the digital evolution, which include;


  • Understanding technology trend across the whole world
  • To understand the customers more
  • Digitizing your operations
  • Partnerships, i.e.  Banks, Telcos, Fintech and other institutions to succeed and move forward.


Mr. Deji Oguntonade called for collaborations between microfinance institutions and Fintechs,  stressing that the partnership must have clarity on the service value to create for the market.


On his part, Mr. Stanley Jacob agreed that to address the challenges of increasing financial service points in the country; there must be synergy between microfinance institutions, commercial banks, Fintech and telcos to deepen financial inclusion in the country.


Oni speaking further cited the success of the mobile money wallet in Ghana as an example of effective collaboration between Banks, Telcos and Fintechs.


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