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Experts Identify Ways to Extend the Boundaries of Financial Inclusion Strategy

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Experts at the Inclusive Finance Nigeria Conference and Awards [IFINCA] have identified the various ways the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN] can extend the boundaries of financial inclusion strategy in order to realise its goal.

Experts Identify Ways to Extend the Boundaries of Financial Inclusion Strategy

In a circular, the CBN had said it is not meeting any of the financial inclusion target agreed and contained in the 2012 Financial Inclusion Strategy.

IFINCA is a national policy platform on financial inclusion setup with the objective of enabling cross-pollination of best practices and breakthroughs, specifically to influence Nigeria’s financial inclusion strategy and campaign.

According to the CBN, Nigeria achieved 60.3 per cent in 2012. It declined to 58.4 per cent in 2016 against a target of 69.5 per cent, which translated to financial exclusion of about 41.6 per cent.

However, to ensure the CBN achieve its policy thrust, the analysts who spoke at IFINCA said it’s important to ensure that the under-banked and the unbanked are offered inclusive financial services.

In her keynote address at the event, Ronke Kuye, managing director/CEO of Shared Agent Network Expansion Facility [SANEF], identified the following major service areas that are required in order to deepen financial inclusion in the country.

These are the provision of sustainable job opportunities, stronger bank operation, reduction of inequality, creation of empowerment programmes, reduction of formal financial services and a boost in financial security and operation.

While addressing the theme of the event, which asked, is it time to reinvent and push the boundaries; she noted that for the financially excluded to be brought into the financial net, certain initiatives must be adopted.

Kuye informed that the CBN is making an effort to ensure that financial inclusion target is met by initiating the mobile money agents, SANEF and agency banking services. Through the initiatives, SANEF had rolled out 156,000 agents. To meet its target of 250,000 agents, SANEF is required to capture another 94,000 agents before the end of 2019.

The impediments that are slowing down the wheels of financial inclusion in Nigeria, according to her, include high cost of banking transaction, lack of attractive financial products, inadequate financial literacy programmes, poor customer service, inadequate infrastructure and cumbersome banking process.

To overcome these impediments, she explained that the industry stakeholders must close ranks and work together and create sustainable synergies that will promote financial inclusion.

“All the regulators and central service providers, agency banking such as SANEF and other developmental organization, super agents, fintech and telcos and the microfinance banks, state governments and the security agencies must work together in order to bring the Nigerians that are excluded into the financial ecosystem”, she said.

Mrs Titilola Shogaolu, Divisional CEO of Interswitch Financial Inclusion Service, while proffering on what’s still missing in financial inclusion in Nigeria, she said “there’s an existing gap despite various initiatives that have been deployed by relevant stakeholders”.

She therefore identified lack of identity card, which is needed for bank accounts opening as a barrier to digital financial inclusion. She said the following must be implemented to achieve financial inclusion in Nigeria.

These are maximum security, alignment and collaboration, provision of simple financial service, attractive benefits, building trust, financial literacy and creation of the multi-lingual channel.

Speaking on the yardsticks for measuring financial inclusion, Oluwadare Owolabi, managing director/CEO of Xpress Payments Solutions, said the results and goals of financial inclusion could only be measured through the provision of access to affordable financial service that meet people’s needs, secured financial services, the establishment of proper financial institutions that cater to the needs of the poor and the use of agency banking.

He identified “access indicator” – the number of bank branches, PoS devices, number of bank accounts and remittances, banking agents, loans and savings with the banks, level of literacy among others – as an important means to deepen financial inclusion and bring more Nigerians into the formal financial service.

Olaoluwa Awojoodu, managing director/CEO of E-Settlement and of Paycentre, in his presentation on the viability of agent banking networks stressed that the challenges facing financial inclusion must be pulled down before the CBN achieve its goals.

He listed these challenges as the unavailability of affordable banking services, threesome documentation and onboarding process, low literary level, non-presence of banks in a rural area and “negative view of banks as being overly complex”.

He said his team carried out a survey and realized that many local areas lack access to financial services, adding that 80 per cent of the banks in Nigeria are sited in Lagos while other states are suffering. “We need to tackle these barriers in order to promote financial inclusion for suitable economic development”.

Explaining how the banks can apply themselves to extend the boundaries of financial inclusion while speaking during the Future of Financial Inclusion panel sitting, the Managing Director and CEO of Precise Financial Systems, Dr Yele Okeremi noted that Nigerians are not interested in the banks but in banking services; as such, the banks must “reengineer their minds by deploying technological innovations that will make them lead the space”, he emphasized.

In similar vein, Nnaemeka Nwachukwu, Head, Executive Support and Corporate Strategy of Grooming Centre, delved into how technology is disrupting the financial inclusion space and redefining all sectors of the economy.

He said Grooming has completed the bank processor information to boost financial inclusion and that the motive is to work optimally with technology and address challenges facing financial inclusion.

“There are technological infrastructure deficiencies in the rural part of the country which we are working towards addressing by partnering with major stakeholders in the industry. We are also training some Nigerians on how to use some technology especially software to access data. But the industry needs to do more”, he noted.


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FG Makes u-Turn on Bank Account Re-Registration

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Federal government on Friday apologised for asking all account holders in financial institutions in the country to re-register their personal details.

FG makes u-Turn on Bank Account Re-Registration

Recall that the federal government had on Thursday ‎ordered that all persons holding accounts across financial institutions and insurance firms should complete and submit self-certification forms to their respective financial institutions.

The notice issued by the government to that effect read, ‎“This is to notify the general public that all account holders in Financial Institutions (Banks, Insurance Companies, etc.) are required to obtain, complete, and submit Self – Certification Forms to their respective Financial Institutions.

“Persons holding accounts in different financial institutions are required to complete and submit the form to each one of the institutions. The forms are required by the relevant financial institutions to carry out due diligence procedures, in line with the Income Tax Regulations 2019.‎”

The directive raised eyebrows, as account holders already possessed Bank Verification Numbers.

Following widespread condemnation that trailed the directive, the Federal Government backtracked on Friday, saying the fresh guidelin‎e was not for all Nigerians.

The government attributed the development to misinformation.

The clarification issued by the government on Friday read, ‎“We apologise for the misleading tweets (now deleted) that went up yesterday, regarding the completion of self-certification forms by Reportable Persons. The message contained in the notice does not apply to everybody. ‎FIRS will clarify Nigerians on the objectives of the directive.”

Also on Friday, FIRS, in a statement posted on Twitter, explained that the guidelines were only for non-residents, as well as people paying tax in more than one country.

Parts of the FIRS statement read, “The Self Certification Form is basically to be administered on Reportable Persons, holding accounts in Financial institutions, that are regarded as “Reportable Financial Institutions” under the CRS.

“Reportable persons are often non-residents and other persons, who have residence for tax purposes in more than one jurisdiction or country.”

“The information that indicates an account holder is a resident for tax purposes in more than one jurisdiction, is expected to be available to Financial Institutions during account opening processes, for the KYC and AML purpose.”


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Stanbic IBTC Bank Disowns Lagos ATM Fraudster

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Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC has disowned Tope Olajide, 22-year-old fraudster arraigned for theft of customers deposits.

Stanbic IBTC Bank Disowns Lagos ATM Fraudster

The Bank said this in a statement on Wednesday.

The statement said: “The attention of the management of Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC has been drawn to news currently circulating in the media, about the alleged arraignment of staff of the Bank on charges bordering on the theft of customers deposits.

“The Bank would like to clarify that the defendant, a 22-year-old Tope Olajide, IS NOT, and was at no point in time an employee of Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC.

“The alleged culprit was apprehended around 7:30 am, on Thursday, 27 August 2020, by security operatives after he was exposed by CCTV footage using ATM cards he had allegedly stolen and converted, to make withdrawals from the accounts tied to the stolen ATMs.

“The CCTV footage also showed the alleged culprit pretending to assist customers at ATMs whilst also attempting to fraudulently dispossess the customers of their ATMs.

“He was subsequently arraigned before an Ikeja Magistrate Court on Monday, 14 September, for stealing the debit cards of two customers and using them to unlawfully withdraw the sum of N427,000.

“The Bank would also like to implore members of the public to be security conscious when conducting transactions at ATMs. Customers are advised to report any suspicious actions around them to security operatives who are usually stationed around the Bank’s ATMs, when carrying out transactions at any of our ATM locations.

“As an organisation, we hold dear the values of integrity, and we will continue to prioritise the safety of our customers effectively.”


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Buhari Okays Establishment of CBN-Led Infraco

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President Muhammadu  Buhari has approved the establishment of an   Infrastructure Company (Infraco) to be driven by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in partnership with the African Finance Corporation (AFC) and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).

Buhari Okays Establishment of CBN-Led Infraco

Mr. Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor

This is coming  on the heels of the foreign reserves’ slump to $36 billion following a cocktail of monetary policy interventions by the apex bank to cushion the scathing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.

Mr Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor, made these disclosures in Abuja at the annual conference of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) with the theme: Facilitating a Sustainable Future: The role of Banking and Finance.

According to him, Infraco would enable the use of private and public capital to support infrastructure investment that will have a multiplier effect on growth across critical sectors.

“This entity would also be able to raise funds from the capital markets and mobilise long term finance to address some of our infrastructure needs, while providing reasonable returns to investors. “We believe this well-structured fund can act as a catalyst for growth in the medium and the long run. The support of the banking community will be important in achieving this objective.

“A well-built infrastructure system, comprising hard infrastructure such as roads and ports, and soft infrastructure such as broadband penetration, can have a multiplier effect on growth by enabling the expansion of business activities in the country”, he explained.

On foreign reserves, Emefiele attributed its crash to the decline in foreign exchange earnings and subsequent adjustments in the value of the naira to the dollar.


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