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Mobile banking: Solution to Nigeria’s financial exclusion – stakeholders

For Nigeria to achieve its financial inclusion goal, industry stakeholders have advised the country to maximize the potential of mobile banking technology in deepening access.

According to the industry sources, the need to use technology to drive financial inclusion in a country where only about 40percent have bank account is critical because of the digital disruptions befalling the financial sector, which have left commercial banks struggling to offset high operating costs of opening new accounts, among other challenges.

Arif Sheikh, Vice President, Digital Banking, CR2 “this is because the operating costs of ‘brick-and-mortar banks’ are higher due to clients’ smaller account balances, hence, the reduction in outlets.”

But Sheikh noted that mobile banking is now modelled as the best option of driving financial inclusion and reducing cost.

According to the Wolrd Bank Global Findex of 2017, the number of adults with bank accounts in Sub-Saharan Africa’s number increased to 43 percent in 2017, up 9 percent from 2014, while Nigeria’s banked population dropped to 40 percent, down 4 percent in the review period.

The Central Bank adopted the NFIS in 2012. The strategy was launched to reduce the percentage of adult Nigerians who do not have access to financial services from 46.3 percent in 2010 to 20 percent in 2020.

Also, the strategy stipulates that 70 percent of those to be included in the financial system by 2020 should be in the formal sector.

“As financial inclusion policy shifts its focus towards the promotion of digital financial services, regulators and policymakers must address this digital gender gap or risk contributing to even greater disparities in access to financial services between women and men,” the EIU said.

Sheikh, who was in Nigeria recently noted that all hands must be on deck to realise the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Governor Godwin Emefiele’s target of the country attaining 95 percent financial inclusion by 2024.

In the third quarter of 2019, the central bank of Nigeria raised its financial inclusion target to 95 percent. The apex bank plans to achieve this new goal by 2024.

The plan is part of the commitment to further enhance the level of financial inclusion in the country and by implication sustain inclusive economic growth.

The new target according to Emefiele, calls for institutions to re-strategise and refocus initiatives, policies, and schemes that will accelerate the pace of delivery of their respective financial inclusion efforts.

The latest figures by EFInA put Nigeria’s financial inclusion rate at 63.2 percent, meaning as much as 36.8 percent of adults still lack access

During his visit to Nigeria to announce the complete upgrade of Access Bank’s digital and technology platform via the CR2, Sheikh stated that CR2 is an Irish firm that delivers omnichannel banking software and solutions, to over 100 banks in 60 countries with a global presence in Africa.

He noted that studying 250 banks in Africa on their mobile banking strategy, Ovum TMT Intelligence, showed that mobile investment had the highest percentage with 23 percent of acquiring new customers, it presents 22 percent ability to introduce new products and 21 percent of remaining relevant to customers.

According to him, CR2 is fully localised in the Nigerian market and has over 1,000 customisations done to suit the requirements for digital channels, cards, and ATMs. It has also reduced customer servicing costs benefit.

“Our integrated self-service banking platform has revolutionised the interaction between banks and their customers at every touchpoint. With our omnichannel banking software, banking becomes personalised, efficient and instant,” sheikh stated.

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