Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA), in partnership with the British High Commission to Nigeria held an interactive session with CBN and stakeholders in the FinTech industry in Lagos on Thursday, 18 April 2019. The event themed Powering Financial Inclusion through Fintech focused on exploring methods and activities to grow the ecosystem through increased funding and enhanced regulatory harmony.
The event served to present and reward several innovations and new infrastructure for financial inclusion among low-income earners in the country, with EFInA, the leading financial sector development organization announcing the winners of its $2 million Fintech Challenge Grant.
Opening the session, EFInA’s Board Chairman, Mr. Segun Akerele highlighted the challenges faced by the industry in Nigeria, as he explained that understanding global market trends and other success factors remain important in improving the national ecosystem.
Akerele said with over $250 million in cumulative funding and about 200 active FinTech ventures operating in the digital retail payments, lending and payments infrastructure spaces, the Nigerian industry is one of the most active in the world. However, 36.8 percent of Nigerian adults are still excluded from the formal economy and basic financial services, even though they have access to mobile phones.
Emphasizing the importance of collaboration, the Chief Executive Officer of EFInA, Mr. Esaie Diei commended the industry stakeholders for their commitment to expanding access to financial inclusion in Nigeria, as he explained that several organizations are working to ensure that Central Bank Of Nigeria’s 2020 Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) to reduce financial exclusion to 20 percent in 2020 remains achievable.
The objectives of the EFInA Fintech Challenge Fund are to provide financial services that are accessible to everyone especially the low-income segment, improve customer experience, enhance the transparency of financial services and increase the adoption of financial services with reliable, valuable and affordable products, he said.
“The CBN’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy is directly intended to create a level playing field that focuses on driving collaborative activities among actors while also adopting a risk-based approach. So with the single goal of ensuring that eight in ten Nigerians are financially included by 2020, all stakeholders have to play strongly to achieve high impact. With the regulatory framework provided by the Central Bank, we all also need to facilitate stronger collaboration among stakeholders to create innovative financial products and services”, said Stephen Ambore, Head, Digital Financial Services, Central Bank of Nigeria.
Unveiling EFInA’s Global and Nigerian Fintech Landscape Survey Report, Dayo Ademola, Head of Innovation, EFInA, explained that successful FinTech industries across the world have mainly focused on factors such as product innovation, strategic partnerships, physical and digital mix, and also lowering barriers to services.
“The industry witnessed a big boom in 2015, and while investors were a little skeptical about the market in 2017, we are currently witnessing a resurgence. Analyzing the global market, we realized that to improve the Nigerian industry, we have to increase access to micro-credit, enact effective regulations, create innovative and effective solutions and also drive more involvement from banks”, she said.
During a panel session at the event, Mr. Esaie Diei, CEO, EFInA, explained that recommendations from the Global and Nigerian Fintech Landscape Survey Report have been shared with the Central Bank of Nigeria in order to support policy formulation, as Central Bank’s head of Digital Financial Services, Segun Ambore, stated that opportunities should be provided for start-ups to access funds without collaterals.
Congratulating EFInA and winners of the Fintech challenge grant, the British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Laure Beaufils, commended the organization, as she explained that Nigeria remains central in United Kingdom’s objectives to accelerate financial inclusion in Africa. She further explained that Fintech is clearly part of the solution to Nigeria’s low levels of financial inclusion but it also needs be the basis of rich partnership between Nigerian firms, suppliers and investors and their counterparts in the UK. That’s why as well as providing grants and incubation support, we are sending Fintech grant beneficiaries to UK fintech week later this month.
“EFInA’s excellent work to promote the sector in Nigeria is good for the grantees, good for Nigeria and good for the UK. A well run grant scheme with worthy grantees is a great start – but it can only do so much. EFInA and it’s partners will now have to work hard with firms and regulators to create the safest, strongest and most enabling environment for good ideas to flourish” she said.
FinTech companies announced as winners of the $2 million Fintech Challenge Fund include CredPal, Capricom Digital, RIBY, SmartTeller, ExtraMile Africa and Social Lender.