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EFInA Survey Shows 58.4% Nigerian Adults Now Financially Served

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(L-r): Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, chairman Senate Committee on Banking & Financial Institutions; Ms. Modupe Ladipo, chair, EFInA’s Board; Dr. Obiageli ‘Oby’ Ezekwesili, Senior Economic Advisor, Open Society Foundations (OSF); Her Majesty Queen Maxima, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Financial Inclusion for Development, of the Netherlands and Lamido Sanusi Lamido, Emir of Kano, at the EFInA Financial Inclusion Workshop in Abuja.

By peter oluka

In a bid to reduce poverty and achieve inclusive economic growth in Nigeria, Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA), a financial sector development organization hosted a workshop with stakeholders such as the Federal Government, United Nations (UN), Heads of Federal Financial Inclusion Initiatives, Academics, Financial Institutions and Financial Services Regulators in Nigeria to advocate for the implementation of policies to drive financial inclusion in Nigeria.

The theme of the workshop was ‘’The Role of Government in Driving Financial Inclusion in Nigeria’’.

Ms. Modupe Ladipo, the chair of EFInA’s Board, shared key barriers responsible for increasing the financially excluded population in Nigeria.

She indicated that “generally, income levels in Nigeria are very low. 19.6% of Nigerians mainly get their source of income from non-farming business while 19.1% get theirs from family business (subsistence or commercial farming).

Only 4.2% of the adult population get their source of income from the formal sector. In addition, she commented that EFInA observed that the North has a high level of financial exclusion. This is as a result of massive job losses, limited resources and no basic necessities of opening a bank account.

Out of 96.4 million adults in Nigeria, 56.3 million (58.4% of the adult population) are now financially served.

40.1 million Nigerian adults (41.6% of the adult population) are financially excluded (without any form of access to financial services). The National Financial Inclusion Strategy target is to lower this figure to 20.0% of the adult population by 2020’’.

She highlighted the issue of inaccurate data in assessing economic growth in Nigeria. ‘‘There are lots of issues in terms of validation and credibility. According to National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), only 6% of Nigerians are duly registered as at 2016. Only 24% of the population has a Bank Verification Number (BVN). We really need to devise how to get a unique form of identification so that we can start to address some of these issues.

She emphasized that the number of microfinance adult users declined from 2.6 million in 2014 to 1.8 million in 2016.

There is a general problem around trust as the licenses of some microfinance banks have been revoked. With a lot of bank charges, account owners are left with little money in their bank account.

Similarly, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, Her Majesty, Queen Maxima of Netherlands, gave a keynote address on the ‘Transformative Power of Financial Inclusion’.

She stated that adopting inclusive strategy is a powerful tool to expanding opportunities for all Nigerians.

She highlighted the current progress made in the National Financial Inclusion Strategy, and emphasised to stakeholders the need for high-level political leadership and the participation of the private sector in achieving the targets. Queen Maxima went on to stress that allowing mobile operators to provide mobile money accounts can be a game changer for financial inclusion in Nigeria, and that stakeholders prioritise the development of inclusive retail e-payments system that serves as a basis to distribute other financial services such as savings, payment, credit and insurance services.

She stated that the process of revising Nigeria’s financial strategy indicates huge opportunities to leverage technology. ‘‘Utilizing technology and expanding mobile money is one of the most promising tools to addressing this gap.  It allows user to access their accounts remotely through their mobile devices.

Currently Nigeria has 58.2 million unique mobile phone users, the contrast to 27 million using mobile banking.

This underscores the immense potential which mobile banking shows for advancing financial inclusion.

The Chairman Senate Committee on Banking and Financial Institutions, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, shared insights on “The Role of Government in Ensuring Financial Institutions Address the Needs of Masses”.

Senator Ibrahim highlighted Federal Government initiatives aimed at promoting economic stability and deepening financial inclusion in Nigeria. He stated that the Government would support mobile banking efforts, and lay the framework to permit mobile network operators to deepen its penetration.

The Governor of Central Bank, Mr. Godwin Emiefiele (CON), in his address delivered by Director, Development Financing, CBN, Mr. Mudashiru Olaitan, explained that initiatives like the Bank Verification Number scheme and others have addressed issues connected to identification in the banking system. ‘‘As we progress in our financial inclusion effort, the need to develop the competences of relevant institutions must be pursued.

Some of the issues we need to address include low infrastructure in rural areas, low income, low saving culture, high unemployment and cultural & religious barriers.

Government has a critical role to play in order to promote inclusive financial execution. Government needs to provide an enabling environment to support the entire value chain within the financial sector to achieve its objectives.

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E-Financial

Bitcoin Smashes Through $8,000 for the First time

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Bitcoin hit a new record high on Monday after smashing through the $8,000 level for the first time over the weekend, marking an almost 50 percent climb in just eight days.

The new high came after leading U.S. payments company Square Inc said late last week that it had started allowing select customers to buy and sell bitcoins on its Cash app.

Bitcoin traded as high as $8,197.81 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange, up over 2 percent on the day and around 48 percent up since dipping to $5,555 on Nov. 12.

An eye-watering eightfold increase in the value of the volatile cryptocurrency since the start of the year has led to muliple warnings that the market is in a bubble, and institutional investors are broadly staying away.

Retail investors, however, as well as some hedge funds and family offices, are piling into the market. The “market cap” of all cryptocurrencies hit an all-time high of over $242 billion on Monday, according to trade website Coinmarketcap.

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ePayment Stakeholders’ Seek Review of Policy on PoS to Boost Growth

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Worried by slow pace of growth in the use of Point of Sale terminal (PoS) as a means of payment in the country, stakeholders have called on Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)to review its policy direction in that ecosystem.

 

This is coming as Nigeria CommunicationsWeek investigations revealed fluctuations in the figure of registered and deployed terminals between August and October this year.

 

According to a report released by NIBSS the industry Payments Terminal Service Aggregator (PTSA), the number of deployed  terminals increased in August to 141, 531 and dropped to 140, 448 in September and increased again in October to 145, 350.

 

Also, same was noticed on the number of registered terminal with August recording 173, 815 and came down to 169, 318 in September while October witnessed increase to 176, 185.

 

Sarafadeen Fasasi, president, Association of Mobile Money Agents in Nigeria, attributed this slow growth to a number of factors which includes lack of support to drive the business.

 

“Support I mean is providing financial backing for transactions on the PoS just the way ATMs are loaded with cash for withdrawals. Today, there are no facility for PoS agency business by the banks which is the major determinant of success or failure of PoS innovation,” he said.

 

He decried lack of structure on ground to resolve issues arising from PoS transactions.

 

“If customer’s account is debited without ATM paying, the individual will go to the bank and fill form for reversal, but in PoS transactions there is no such thing which has pushed customers to resolve to holding on to PoS attendant to ensure that the issue is sorted out. As at today, all issues arising from ATM, switching, PoS, online among others, are under NIBSS which does not have the capacity to coup with these issues,” he said.

 

He however, urged CBN to review her policy on PoS for it to witness the desired growth, such review he said could come in creating a unit to address issues arising from PoS transactions.

 

“If the policy is reviewed it will build trust and confidence in the use of the platform for payment. More so, PoS fixed charge is high at .075, this means that customer is charged N750 on N100,000 transaction compared to N65 charged on withdrawal outside of customer’s bank ATM,” he added.

 

Onajite Regha, executive secretary/CEO, E-Payment Providers Association of Nigeria (E-PPAN)said: “So far, E-PPAN in its advocacy nature has taken steps ahead to break the barrier of this poor adoption. We are looking into capturing the lower part of the pyramid with the mobile payments awareness which will see more people included financially and thereby increase the adoption of the Cashless policy.”

 

“We are also open to discussions on advocacy and sensitization from financial bodies who have products and services to render in the pursuit of the success of this policy. From time to time we carry out sensitization, financial literacy and education programme and we partner with stakeholders to expose the benefits of electronic payments to consumers across the strata”.

 

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Africa FinTech Foundary set to Disrupt FinTech Ecosystem

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L-R: Victor Etuokwu, Executive Director, Personal Banking, Access Bank Plc; Averi Thomas-Moore, Company Builder, Venture Lab, ACCION and Victor Okigbo, Head, Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF) at a press conference to announce the maiden edition of ‘AFF Disrupt’ Conference 2017 in Lagos.

Africa FinTech Foundary, an Access bank accelerator which seeks to create new opportunities in sub-saharan Africa by providing a platform designed to inspire and challenge African innovators and entrepreneurs is set to launch with a conference on FinTech ecosystem.

The conference dubbed ‘AFF Disrupt’ is scheduled to hold on December 14, 2017 in Lagos.

Victor Etuokwu, executive director, Access bank, said that AFF will provide African companies seeking to launch their products, with capacity building and training in business development, provide connectivity to global innovation grids, promote access to capital, create opportunities for partnership as well as showcase best practices and successes in African-led innovation solution.

“Every FinTech seeks to disrupt the world through product or solution and AFF is here to disrupt. We want to do things that will drive the economy through innovative products and solutions. We are going to gather a team of investors that will help fund innovators that graduates from the accelerator programme of AFF,” he said.

Victor Okigbo, head, Africa FinTech Foundary (AFF), said that the Foundary has lined up activities preceding the main launch event which include master classes on entrepreneurship technology, enterprise design, collectively referred to as the AFF Innovation Tour, holding in four African cities this November.

He said AFF is in partnership with global technology giants such as IBM, Microsoft, Systemic Logic, Kantar TNS, SAS and Access bank as part of the AFF Disrupt programmes.

Adekele Adekoya, Event Coordinator for the AFF Disrupt conference, said that AFF seeks to create new opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa by providing a platform designed to inspire and challenge African Innovators and entrepreneurs.

“We want to engage with startups in all the locations we visit. This is a very good opportunity for startups to take advantage of the partner network created by AFF DISTRUPT and its partners to create linkages and networks that can help grow their businesses,” he said.

The vetting process is currently going on, and a total number of 12 starts-ups would be selected from a pool of about 400 start-ups, to demo at the AFF Disrupt 2017 conference holding in Lagos and also get to be part of the Africa FinTech Foundary’s 3-month accelerator programme.

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