NIPOST offers leeway to deepening financial inclusion in Nigeria
• PMG says Post Office to become Western Union agent
To deepen financial inclusion in the country, the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) has said that investments in technology, affordability of services, and adequate policies would be crucial to the realisation of the objectives.
NIPOST said the term ‘financial inclusion’ gained importance in the early 2000 as a result of findings about financial exclusion and its direct correlation to poverty.
As such, financial inclusion or inclusive finance is the delivery of financial services at affordable costs to sections of disadvantaged and low income segments of society in contrast to financial exclusion where those services are not available or even affordable.
Speaking at The Guardian organised ‘Advancing Financial Inclusion Forum 2019’ with the theme: ‘Expanding Financial Inclusion through Knowledge Exchange, Technology and Value Addition’, in Lagos, the Post Master-General, Barrister Bisi Adegbuyi, said as business continues to evolve, the post too has to constantly move, reaffirm and redefine itself to meet the demands of a market that never sleeps. He stressed that the need is to always adapt to new trends including technology at an unprecedented pace.
Adegbuyi, while making reference to UN goals of financial inclusion, said there must be access, and at a reasonable cost for all households to have a full range of financial services, including savings or deposit services, payment and transfer, credit and insurance.He said it should be driven by sound and safe institutions governed by clear regulations and industry performance standards.
The PMG, who noted that financial and institutional sustainability must ensure continuity and certainty of investment, said there must be competition to ensure choice and affordability for clients.
Already, it is estimated that about 3.8 billion working adults globally have no access to any type of formal financial services provided by regulated financial institutions.
In sub-Saharan Africa, only 24 per cent of adults have a bank account even though Africa’s formal financial sector has grown in recent years. Financial inclusion is meant to promote investment, access to credit facilities, stimulate economic activities and job creation.
On this, Adegbuyi revealed that NIPOST has already been granted a Super Agency License since last year, by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“We are now working towards a full commercial license. Following from this, NIPOST have launched an Agency Banking scheme and have already signed up with a number of commercial banks and other stakeholders.“We have therefore launched what is call ‘bank@post’ to serve as the super agent of the post office where customers of every financial service provider can have access to service.”
Realising the power of technology and the fact that services should go beyond brick and mortar, the PMG said NIPOST is utilising digital financial services by working with reputable Fintechs to reach customers wherever they are.He disclosed that NIPOST has also gone into collaboration with the CBN, the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) and the Bankers Committee to establish a National Microfinance Bank that will ensure that intervention funds reach targeted MSMEs and rural farmers.
Adegbuyi explained that the NMFB is to have at least one physical branch in each of 109 senatorial zones, which its services will be available in all other post offices through the bank@post, the Nipost Super Agency.The PMG informed that NIPOST has concluded arrangements to start paying Western Union transaction in major post offices in the country.
Recognising that accurate address is very critical in ‘Know Your Customer” (KYC), he said the organization has developed Digital Addressing System (DAS) to enable every citizen obtain an address free of charge, an initiative, which he claimed is without a second of its type in the whole of Africa.According to him, today’s Post Office has gone through a lot of transformation to enable it to survive in the competitive communication market.
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