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‘5G network key to financial inclusion as banks transact N5.3tr on digital channels’

By Adeyemi Adepetun
29 October 2021   |   4:10 am
The telecommunications sector has been enjoined to ensure that Nigeria deploy 5G network technology as fast as possible.

5G mast Source The verge

More investments needed for broadband deployment
The telecommunications sector has been enjoined to ensure that Nigeria deploy 5G network technology as fast as possible.

This is because the technology is expected to play huge role in bridging the financial inclusion gap in the country.

Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank, Ebenezer Onyeagwu, who disclosed this in Lagos, yesterday, at the ‘20 Years of Telecommunications Revolution in Nigeria: The Special Summit’, organised by Compact Communications Limited, disclosed that as at the end of 2020, Nigerian banks transacted N5.3 trillion on various digital channels.

These channels include ATM, Internet banking, mobile banking, Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) among others.

Onyeagwu said Nigeria needs 5G urgently to enhance the volumes of transactions in the financial sector and other sectors of the economy.

Already, data by Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA) shows that by the end of 2020, only 64 per cent of Nigerian adults were financially included. This, according to EFInA, means that 36 per cent of Nigerian adults or 38 million adults remained completely financially excluded.

While appreciating efforts of the telecoms sector in the last 20 years, the Zenith Bank boss urged stakeholders in the industry to do more, stressing that there will be heavier dependency on the telecoms sector going forward.

“The revolution is just beginning. 5G offers more capabilities. Telecoms sector gave rise to Fintechs – reasons there are several of them coming up. But on that, Fintechs cannot come to the financial sector and not be regulated,” he said.

Onyeagwu believes broadband and Internet access are still very much challenged in the country.

He appealed to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to ensure more investments go into the broadband sector, stressing that is key to expanding financial inclusion in the country.

He revealed that so many parts of the country still lack basic telecoms infrastructure that could deepen financial inclusion.

Speaking on the issue of USSD, which has caused bad blood between banks and telcos, Onyeagwu said: “Banks are not owing telecoms operators. In 2018, when the CBN saw that USSD was able to accelerate financial inclusion, it was understood that telcos would not charge. But we understand that they were using infrastructure. We therefore concluded that end users would pay for the service and a charge of about N10. Banks are just agents between USSD users and telcos. The bulk of the transaction fees go to the switches (NIBSS) to maintain the infrastructure.”

While digital transactions are beautiful, they come with challenges including cost, cybercrime and data breaches among others. “Therefore, there must be collaboration to tackle this challenge,” he said.