As part of efforts to promote financial inclusion among the unbanked and underbanked population in Nigeria, innovative telecoms brand, 9mobile, joined Ecobank, Vanguard Newspapers, Sanef, and other stakeholders in the financial sector to brainstorm the germane issues and plot a roadmap to actualizing the cashless policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria. The virtual Forum Series which was organized by Ecobank and Vanguard Newspaper focused on Mobile Payment Innovation and Closing the Financial Inclusion Gap – post Covid-19.
Representing the apex bank, Director of Payment Systems at the Central Bank of Nigeria, Jimoh Musa, stated that Nigeria has made a commitment to reduce the number of financially excluded from 46% to 20%. He emphasized that the idea and strategy of the CBN to introduce agent banking and mobile money was to solve the inclusion access and proximity issues. “One of the things that we found was that it was very difficult for people in the rural communities to have access to financial touch-points to the extent that people in the rural communities would have to travel for 10 to 20 minutes to get to the nearest financial touch-point.”
In his contribution, the CEO of 9mobile, Alan Sinfield, stated that the telecom company is continually exploring opportunities to bring creative solutions to Nigerians. “9PSB provides an excellent opportunity to further pursue this commitment to serve more people in a manner that improves their quality of life,” he explained, adding that, “we are confident that 9PSB will also stimulate savings and investments as more liquidity is mobilized from the informal sector into the mainstream financial system. This will translate into increased economic activities in the informal sector and the overall economy.”
Sinfield stated further that there is need for collaborations and partnerships to achieve more inclusion. “We are willing to partner with financial institutions to reach out to the unbanked and under-banked population in Nigeria. Telcos in Nigeria have some customer data advantage that Nigeria’s financial institutions can benefit from to deepen their penetration. Even though banking started long before mobile telecommunications, there are more active mobile lines than active bank accounts,” the telco chief said.
According to the Managing Director and Regional Executive of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Patrick Akinwuntan, Nigeria’s population of over 200 million people underscores the unique potentials inherent in harnessing the financial inclusion drive. He said that “essentially, the most critical task for us is how we can move from the narrative of using financial inclusion for poverty alleviation to providing wealth creation and gainful economic engagement with the largest pool of participants in the economy.”