Financial inclusion has been regarded as one of the most critical drivers of economic growth especially as access to financial services has been proven as a means of empowering people in various ways.
Over the past few years, financial technologies have gained prominence in the African continent particularly Nigeria as an effective tool to bridge the financial inclusion gap.
This has brought about an increase in consumer adoption of fintech solutions and attracted numerous investments.
Despite the strides, however, more needs to be done in the area of beefing up financial literacy campaigns such that individuals not only have access to these financial products and services but are able to convert them to improve their financial status.
CFA: Ezinne, glad to have you on the show today.
Ezinne: Thanks Fred for having me.
CFA: Let’s start with the understanding of how Nigeria has fared in trying to reach the unbanked.
Ezinne: Over the years the Central Bank has implemented various policies and regulations to improve financial inclusion. I remember that in the 2016 review of the National Financial Inclusion strategy, the targets of 80% inclusion 2020 were reached.
However, this was again revised to 95% inclusion by 2024. Although official statistics are not out yet on what the numbers are as of 2020, going by what NIMC has published about 46 million BVNs enrolled as of February 2021.
One can safely assume that almost 54 million Nigerians still do not have bank accounts. The official survey that EdFina carried out as of 2018 put the financial inclusion rate at 63% – an improvement from 58% that it was as at 2016.
Even at that, if you consider what other African countries are doing that looks very very pale. Kenya has about 85% financial inclusion and South Africa has 90% so from that perspective we can clearly see that a lot still has to be done in the area of financial inclusion.
CFA: What are some of the factors that you think are affecting the growth that we should have witnessed in reaching the unbanked?
Ezinne: There are several factors really but I’ll just touch on a few. The first one is that we don’t have enough Bank branches, let’s face it.
It cost money to set up a bank Brunch and we don’t have so many of them in the rural areas. again with the licensing of Mobile Money Operators, one would have thought that we would have moved a bit more rapidly than we have now.
Then again that MMOs prefer to operate in urban cities you hardly find enough in the rural areas.
You can watch the full interview here.