Agada Apochi, managing director at Unified Payments (UP) said that fintech solutions are taking center stage to empower the youth, paving the way for a more inclusive and resilient economy.
This was made known during his keynote speech at the Digital Agenda Forum held yesterday at the Lagos Oriental Hotel.
Apochi highlighted the challenges posed by a large youthful population facing high unemployment and poverty rates, potentially leading to increased criminal activities.
“Our youths are gainfully engaged in the wrong things because we have not been able to engage them in what they should do.”
Citing data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigeria has about 220 million mobile subscriptions as of 2023, and this represents a teledensity of about 116 percent.
He added, “With a very youthful population and the teledensity of about 116 percent, there is so much that can be achieved.”
Acknowledging the vast potential of technology in addressing societal issues. He underscored the critical need to engage the youth in constructive activities, leveraging financial technology to create employment opportunities and deter involvement in criminality.
However, stakeholders who seek to play in the financial services sector must be very mindful of these challenges. He said, “ How we leverage financial technology, particularly in the payment space to address the challenges that face us as a nation.”
“Law enforcement is very important, we can deploy all the military hardware and men to tackle these challenges but the best way and the most effective way to deal with the challenges is to deal with it at the source and by leveraging digital Financial Services we will be able to create an inclusive economic environment,” Apochi said.
Nigeria, despite making progress, still faces hurdles in achieving optimal financial inclusion. According to Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA) data, the country has achieved a 64.1 percent financial inclusion rate, slightly up from 63.2 percent in 2018. The target of 80 percent by 2020 may now be postponed to 2030, as persistent access gaps remain.
Digital inclusion emerged as a critical factor, with Apochi noting that many who are financially included are still digitally excluded. He emphasized the importance of digital inclusion, citing the cost-effectiveness of leveraging digital technologies for delivering financial services.
“By leveraging digital financial services, we have been able to achieve growth in inclusion,” Apochi stated. Unified Payments recorded over 900 million transactions in the first nine months of the year, with mobile and digital channels experiencing substantial growth, reaching 45 million subscribers.
“Also, we have about 1.5 million banking agents across Nigeria with about 2.1 million devices and in the first three quarters of the year recorded about 1.9 billion transactions at agent outlets,” he said
To encourage collaboration among operators, Apochi shared that Unified Payments focuses on ensuring different operators can coexist on a single platform.
The commitment and contributions of Apochi to the fintech sector were recognised as he was presented with the Financial Technology Icon of The Year award during the event.