Wednesday, December 18,
2019 / 7:27 PM / Nifemi Taiyese for WebTV / Header Image Credit: WebTV
With less than a month to the year 2020, the possibility of Nigeria attaining the 80% financial inclusion target for its adult population, constitutes part of the agenda of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other players in the domestic financial services sector.
At the recent 2019 Accion Microfinance Bank Financial Inclusion Seminar, the Chairman of the Board, Accion MFB, Mr. Patrick Akinwuntan, in an interview with WebTV, gave his views on reducing the exclusion gap to 20% in 2020.
He identified four (4) pillars that have the potential of driving Nigeria's financial inclusion strategy.
The Search for Collaboration
Mr. Akinwuntan emphasized active collaboration amongst the various players in the eco-system from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) Shared Agency Network Facility (SANEF), an agency platform of the Central Bank, to the Fintechs and Telcos.
According to Akinwuntan, the whole idea is to leverage on a shared basis framework the various digital platforms to deliver on the mandate of financial inclusion to every household.
He noted that the CBN, through various initiatives and policies, has moved the nation from 40% financial inclusion to over 60%. The Accion MFB Chairman said the whole idea was to combine efforts at achieving over 80% inclusion by 2020.
Akinwuntan agreed that adopting a shared digital platform from mobile phones, switches, credit bureaus, and the identification information from BVNs of banks to Telcos was critical in supporting the efficiency desired for inclusiveness. He made a case for the leveraging of all know-your-customer (KYC) information to deepen inclusion and stimulate activities in the agriculture, health, creative arts and a few other sectors.
Speaking on the pillars for achieving financial inclusion, Akinwuntan gave thought to the following:
The Regulatory Pillar
For the regulatory pillar, the Accion MFB Chairman said the process has allowed for the establishment of tier 1 account, to the extent that people can open accounts from their mobile phones. He called for the sustenance of regulatory collaboration that will have a positive impact on Nigeria's financial inclusion drive.
The Digital Pillar
Akinwuntan called for collaboration between the Telcos, National Switches, Insurance Companies, Credit Bureaus, the National Identity Management Commission and the Nigerian Immigration Service.
The focus here, according to him, was to bring the services at the lowest cost in a sustainable manner through the digital pillar.
He made a strong case for leveraging APIs to deepen digital financial services.
The Education Pillar
On Education, Akinwuntan stressed the need for investment in financial education to achieve the 2020 target.
From public enlightenment programs to media campaigns, stakeholders in the ecosystem should assiduously sensitize Nigerians to the benefits of participating in the financial system.
He lauded the financial inclusion sensitization programs by the CBN but urged other organizations to join in expanding the enlightenment seminars/workshops and publicity across the nation.
The Security Pillar
As the nation goes digital in its financial services, reaching out to millions of unbanked Nigerians, investments in cyber-security must be given top priority by the stakeholders in the banking and Fintech ecosystem.
As financial inclusion deepens in the country, Mr. Akinwuntan believed the systems, digital infrastructure and the personal details of people should be secure.
The National Security Architecture of Nigeria must ensure a robust cyber-security measure to guard against cyber-crimes that could act as a disincentive to financial inclusion.
Financial Inclusion Rate
At the moment, Nigeria's financial inclusion rate is 63.2% and would require an additional 16.8% to hit the 2020 target of 80%.
Major areas to deepen financial exclusion in the country include; the North-West and North-East regions, Women, Youth and Rural communities.