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‘Out of 35m Nigerians with BVN, 25m are underserved’

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A financial expert and former Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Coronation Trustees Limited, Mrs. Oghogho Osula, has stated that out of 35 million with Bank Verification Number (BVM), 25 million are generally considered to be financially underserved.

Osula , who stated this while addressing capital market participants at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in Lagos, at the weekend, regretted that only 10 million of the number are adjudged to be financially included and served.

“An estimated seven million financially underserved individuals do not own bank accounts, but enjoy limited financial services through informal arrangements such as cooperatives, esusu, among others. It follows therefore, that only about 42 million (42 per cent) of the estimated 100 million adult Nigerians enjoy some form of financial inclusion.

“Nigeria has a large mobile market, with about 133 million subscribers and a market penetration of around 75 per cent in 2014, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission.

This huge number provides an opportunity to use it in deploying easy-to-use technology that can improve access to financial services across Nigeria’s mobile financial service platform and could be the answer to bridge the gap in inclusion level.

According to her, active involvement and contributions of various stakeholders remain a prerequisite for the advancement of financial inclusion and nation’s economic growth.

She stressed the need for more collaboration aimed at reducing adult exclusion to the barest minimum in the near future, as well as transforming Nigerian economy into a financially inclusive one.

According to her, an inclusive financial sector is characterised by the diversity of financial services, the legal and regulatory environments that ensure the integrity of the financial sector and access to financial services for all.

She admitted that a lot of progress has been made in the area of financial inclusion, but added that there is still lack of sufficient infrastructure to achieve the level of inclusion desired in Nigeria.

“Financial inclusion means helping a greater number of people secure relevant and good quality financial products, which are appropriate, affordable and convenient for the entire adult population, especially the most excluded, the poor, less privileged, and women.

“In Nigeria, as in many developing African countries, physical proximity to a branch is the most significant barrier to accessing basic financial services,” she said.

“Technology can help and while a lot of progress has been made, there is still a lack of enough infrastructure to achieve the level of inclusion desired in Nigeria, (Network failure, Data band with issues etc).

Security fears, Affordability, Remote locations, financial infrastructure

“Despite being Africa’s largest economy, only 30 per cent of Nigerian adults have an account at a formal banking institution. Currently, more women are excluded than men, with about 73 per cent of them holding no account.

“For the first time since the survey in 2008, the geo-political zone with the highest proportion of financially excluded adults is the North-West Nigeria.

“Technology can help and while a lot of progress has been made, there is still a lack of enough infrastructures to achieve the level of inclusion desired in Nigeria,” she added.

There are 35Million BVN at the moment. Estimated 10Million of this number are adjudged to be financially included and financially served, this being the BVN holders are actively engaged in financial transactions through banks, microfinance banks, etc. while the remaining 25Million are generally considered to be financially underserved.

She suggested that regulators and policy makers must create an enabling policy environment to actively promote both the demand for and the supply of financial services to the unbanked and under-banked.
Furthermore,

The EFInA Access to Financial Services in Nigeria 2012 survey revealed that 23.0 million adults save at home. If 50.0% of these people were to save N1,000 per month with a bank, then up to N138 billion could be incorporated into the formal financial sector every yearî.

On what other Jurisdictions have done to promote financial inclusion, Osula said United Kingdom, a financial inclusion fund of £120 million was set up to help bring about expansion of access to financial services, while a taskforce was formally launched in February 2005 to monitor progress on financial inclusion and make suitable recommendations.


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