BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

Financial inclusion is not responsibility of financial institutions -Page Financials

According to Page Financials, a company that provides financial services, the responsibility of financial inclusion is not on the shoulders of the financial institutions.

“This is because they will go into it to make money but financial inclusion should be seen as a social service. Something financial institutions would invest in, like a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), “Segun Akintemi, CEO of Page Financials said.

Expressing his worries over the approach to financial inclusion in Nigeria, the CEO suggested that “we need to go back to the framework of financial inclusion. We cannot succeed in it if we keep pursuing it to drive revenue.”

Nigeria has a bank-led financial inclusion model and the latest figures by EFInA put Nigeria’s financial inclusion rate at 63.2percent, meaning that as much 36.8 percent of adults still lack access.

As at the time Nigeria was considering the optimal approach to take to leverage new, innovative technology to deliver financial services to its people, the Central Bank analysed in some detail how to structure the guidelines and the regulatory environment to deliver the benefits on offer, without compromising the integrity of the financial system.

“We need to go back and identify how we want to push financial inclusion but definitely; it is not a forte of financial institutions.”

The CEO added that the financial institutions can provide the enabling environment but it is almost like social services and until “we start treating it in such a way organizations are not looking at it to make money but encourage people into the inclusion net, it would be difficult for us to grow Financial inclusion.”

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) plans to ensure that 80 percent of Nigerian adults are included in the financial net by the year 2020. The apex through its collaboration with industry stakeholders launched the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) in January 2012 intending to achieve the set target.

At the current levels, the apex bank would have to bridge the 16.8 percent inclusion gap in less than four months to achieve its 20 percent exclusion goal.

In the quest to ensure it achieve its projection, the apex bank in October 2018; released exposure draft guideline in which it proposed Payment Service Banks (PSB) aimed at deepening access to financial services in a country that lags its African peers in inclusion rate.

“PSB is supposed to largely gather deposits, they are not supposed to lend. So it is not a license appropriate for us as we are largely lenders,” Akintemi told BusinessDay when he was asked if Page was interested in obtaining the PSB licence.

On Wednesday 18th, September 2019 the Central Bank disclosed that it had given Approval -In-Principle (AIP) to Hope, Money Master and 9PSB to operate as Payment Service Banks.

PSB is a payment service initiative proposed by CBN in which Banking agents, Mobile Money Operators (MMOs), Retail chains (Supermarkets), Telecommunications companies (Telcos) who can meet regulatory requirements to operate under the structures and guideline specified by the apex bank.

At least 30 business names have since applied for registration to obtain the payment service bank licence but since October last year, the regulator has not issued any of the applicants the ticket to provide financial services.

 

ENDURANCE OKAFOR

 

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