Even though more work is expected to be done to achieve financial inclusion target in the country, many financial institutions have keyed into the CBN agenda by providing a wide range of financial services and propositions that provides the poor with opportunities to build savings, make investments and get credit. UDO ONYEKA reports.
It is a known fact that banks play a vital role in the economic development of a country. Banks in Nigeria have made rapid strides in the recent past in the area of developing innovative products and services.
However, a sizeable section of the population, particularly the vulnerable, low income groups, continue to remain excluded from even the most basic opportunities and services provided by the financial sector.
Findings indicate that the efforts of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN and financial institutions in the country have been able to deepen financial inclusion by ensuring that a range of financial services is available to more person s now more than in the past.
For instance, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, early this month in Lagos restated the commitment of the bank to ensuring the provision of affordable financial services to the low income and underserved active adult population.
Emefiele made this known while delivering a keynote address at the 2014 Financial Inclusion Conference organised by Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access, EFInA, held on December 2, 2014.
The Governor’s commitment to financial inclusion was part of the bank’s vision to become the model central bank delivering price and financial system stability and promoting sustainable economic development, adding that as part of the CBN’s commitment, a Financial Inclusion secretariat has been set up in the Bank to coordinate the implementation of the Financial Inclusion Strategy.
The 2014 Access to Financial Services Survey, which was unveiled at that event, showed that Nigeria has made progress in deepening financial inclusion.
According to Chief Executive Officer, CEO, EFInA, Ms Modupe Ladipo, the result of the Access to Financial Services survey showed that the percentage of formally excluded adult Nigerians had reduced to 39.5 per cent, stating that the figure was still relatively high due to the fact that 23 per cent of adult Nigerians lacked formal education and less than 10 per cent were salaried.
Ladipo however, expressed gladness that the percentage of adult Nigerians formally included in the financial system had increased to about 50 per cent.
Emefile, while commending EFInA for its work towards promoting financial inclusion in Nigeria said the CBN had received enormous support from operators in the implementation of its National Financial Inclusion Strategy.
Though the CBN governor admitted that the journey to achieving Financial Inclusion was long, he expressed belief that the sustained efforts of the industry would go a long way towards reaching the financial inclusion goals and targets.
As part of efforts to facilitate the CBN’s financial inclusion target of 80 per cent of Nigerians by 2020, Access Bank Plc has collaborated with telecoms operator, Airtel to develop and launch mobile money service: Access Money.
This service allows customers to perform simple, secure and instant financial transactions using their mobile phones, which is also aimed at promoting financial inclusion for those with no access to formal financial services, according to Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Segun Ogunsanya.
Ogunsanya said Airtel as an innovative operator in Nigeria’s telecoms market was strategic in partnering Access Bank also one of the leading financial institutions in Nigeria, to create an enabling avenue for millions of Nigerians to gain financial inclusion.
“With Access money powered by Airtel, millions of Nigerians will be able to make purchases, pay for services and receive payments by the touch of a simple button on their phones.
“We are indeed proud of our partnership with Access Bank and hope that many Nigerians will take advantage of this product,” he said.
With this innovative service, customers on the mobile network can send and receive money, make deposits and withdrawals, pay their utility bills and buy airtime for their lines. Added to the convenience this service provides is the ability of customers to receive money through agents nationwide or through card-less withdrawals from any Access Bank ATM machine.
According to Group Managing Director, Access Bank, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, Access Money will be providing financial access to more and more people and small businesses, creating an easier channel for the distribution of financial aid; and also making it easier for government to receive taxes and deliver welfare payments.
He said Access bank and Airtel agreed to introduce Access Money into Nigeria’s financial landscape in line with the Financial Inclusion initiative of the CBN even as it serves as a platform bring more and more of the under-banked and unbanked into the world of banking. In the same vein SecureID Nigeria Limited, a digital solution provider certified by Visa, MasterCard and Verve, in partnership with Sterling Bank plc, has provided a new Biometric Identification Card to drive financial inclusion in the country.
Head, Financial Inclusion, Sterling Bank, Mr. Richard Oshungboye, said the biometric card, which is designed to hold the bio data, fingerprints and account information of the card holder, will be used by customers with access to formal financial services such as deposit, cash withdrawal, paying of bills, recharge card, fund transfer among other services.
“SecureID provides solutions that aid performance and efficiency in service delivery. I attest to the fact that, the successful implementation of our Financial Inclusion Project as confirmed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, which is the biometric enabled and first of its kind in the country would in no small measure contribute in deepening financial inclusion”, Oshungboye said.
Innovation and Product Development expert at SecureID, Mr. Ola Salami, said SecureID was delighted to partner Sterling Bank to bring this initiative to the unbanked population, in support of CBN’s vision to reduce unbanked rate to 20 per cent by 2020.
“To conduct a transaction with the biometric card, the customer inserts the card into the PoS terminal and places his or her finger on the fingerprint sensor on the PoS terminal. The terminal then validates fingerprint supplied by the customer against the one stored on the card. If the supplied fingerprints match the one stored on the card, customer will be able to perform any of the transactions referred to above.
“The deployed PoS terminal also serves as an enrolment tool for the purpose of Know Your Customer requirements as it has a key pad and webcam to fulfil requirements for account opening”, he said.
On its part Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, through outstanding financial product and service innovation.
In recognition of the bank’s efforts in promoting financial inclusion in Nigeria, GTBank emerged winner of the 2014 EFInA award for enhancing access to financial services for Nigerians, especially the low income population and being a leader in facilitating an all-inclusive financial system.
Head, Retail Mainland Division, GTBank Adeola Ogunyemi, said the has introduced several innovative products and services over the last six months in its bid to further consolidate its position as the most service focused and profitable bank in Nigeria.
SOURCE: National Mirror (Nigeria)
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