Deepening the Financial Sector: Time for Growth

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Wednesday, January 02, 2019 6:30PM / Bukola Akinyele for Proshare WebTV


Panelists at a recently held financial inclusion forum in Lagos, explored the growing possibilities of broader financial engagement and deeper market foot prints that could assist in expanding businesses in Africa and Nigeria.

Fisayo Durojaiye a panelist, noted that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had already issued regulatory guidelines regarding payment services, just as the National Pension commission (PENCOM) also developed regulations regarding Micro Pension schemes in the country, while the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) has started regulating insurance distribution, start-up participation in health insurance.

Mr Durojaiye believes that in 2019 there will be larger opportunities for growth once financial inclusion is deepened through the extension of digital payment solutions that leverage wider service platforms beyond traditional banking channels.

According to him the participation of Telcos in the financial system through their Network and broad database, will boost financial participation amongst micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

He was of the view that once the payment infrastructure has been laid, every other thing will be built upon it.

Charlene Chen the COO of BitPesa, UK in her contribution and speaking more broadly for the Fintech Industry, asserted that the general payment regulation pertaining to large financial institutions such as Banks, had already been established.

She observed that in Nigeria there has been remarkable progress with Payment Service licenses, noting that most markets don’t regulate mobile money, micro insurance, and they are often bank-led.

Giving BitPesa’s experience, Chen notes that getting a license that would normally have been a very difficult and arduous exercise in the UK turned out to be quite easy and routine.

She said BitPesa is currently in the process of obtaining licenses across African markets.

For Lexi  Novitske, Principal Investment Officer, Singularity Investment, Africa, he emphasized the need for financial services firms and investment portfolio companies, to give priority to high quality teams that can help the growth of company operations and key into a long term perspective of the corporate business

Durojaiye, on his part, expressed concern over regulation in Nigeria, where he considers regulators as still holding back innovation, partly as a result of a knowledge gap and equally as a result of the slow processing time associated with administrative bureaucracies in the country.

Lexi Novitske opined that there was no specific solution that could be deployed to really unlock the mass population of Nigerian consumers.

Mrs. Novitske also noted that agency models are very expensive and difficult to implement, but would love to see some creative solutions around how to leverage  platforms like Telcos, gambling companies, churches, or clubs that already have a broad agent network.

Novitske believes that these platforms are avenues to unlocking a sizeable consumer base and to rapidly scale up financial inclusion in the country.

Chen also made a case for infrastructure, which she saw as critical to financial inclusiveness and one of the reasons why Fintechs will experience a stall in the scaling up operations in Nigeria.

She harped on connectivity and interoperability between banks, mobile money operators and agent networks.

“We need to continue to support early-stage startups and beyond from ideas to incubation, setting them up for success” she said.

Giving an outlook for 2019, Durojaiye said “As we look out to solving problems, I see opportunities for growth in micro pension funds and support for startups as they go forward in building a great financial ecosystem”.

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