Nigeria’s financially excluded population remains a constant headache for policy makers and businesses. As the number of people living below the poverty line increases, so does that of those that are financially excluded, hence, the increase in efforts recently by authorities and partner agencies and companies on addressing the unbanked challenge.
BusinessDay’s session on the Day 2 of the Social Media Week focused on finding sustainable solutions to the conundrum. Themed ‘Financial Inclusion: Making Financial Inclusion a Reality for Nigeria’, the session brought together stakeholders from government, its agencies, private sector, and academia.
One of the things all participants agreed on was that there were several legs to addressing the problem.
Frontline gubernatorial candidate in Lagos State under the All Progressives Congress (APC), Babajide Sanwo-Olu and who was representing the government side of the discussion said lifting citizens from poverty remains a priority for any serious government.
He pointed out that it is often taken for granted that thousands of people living in the commercial capital of Nigeria are still not banked. He recalls that during the distribution of Trader Moni in the state, many Lagosians had to rely on other people’s mobile wallet to get their N10,000 loan.
Jay Alabraba, co-founder of Paga Tech, said one of financial inclusion that requires attention is the payment aspect. He disclosed that Paga is working to address and from its activities controls about 20,000 agents across the country. So far, the company has serviced 7.7 million customers through its agent network.
Olayinka David-West a lecturer with Lagos Business School said an important leg is financial sustainability. While it is important to create physical products that tend to address the problem, it will be more effective if more attention was given to understanding what the people in the communities actually need and how best to deliver it to them.
“We need to know who the excluded are and what their challenges, pain points and aspirations are in order to successfully deliver financial access to them,” says David-West.
Nurudeen Zauro who is representing the Central Bank of Nigeria on the panel said education of those who need the services remains a bigger issue. According to him, most young people in mostly rural areas do not know about financial inclusion services available to them.
Sanwo-Olu added that collaboration between the government agencies like CBN and the Nigeria Communications Commission is a leg of the jigsaw. There needs to be a cordial relationship between the agencies in order for businesses that will provide the services to be more efficient.