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EFInA says Nigeria unlikely to achieve 80% financial inclusion target in 2020  

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The Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access, EFInA, an organization that conducts biennial report on Nigeria’s financial inclusion industry, has said that the target by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to ensure 80 percent of Nigerian adults have access to financial services by end of 2020 is unlikely to be met.

cashless policy

EFInA, having covered Nigeria’s financial inclusion space in the last 12 years, said that the 20 percent exclusion target is unlikely to be achieved as its data show that Nigeria’s exclusion gap was widening.

It said even though its 20218 data showed that more people became financially included the financial inclusion pace was however not matching the country’s population growth rate.

“What we saw between the 2016 and 2018 data was that more people were becoming financially included but not at the same pace as the population growth rate which is why the 80 percent target of financial inclusion for this year or conversely the 20 percent exclusion target is unlikely to be met if we are all particularly realistic,” the Head of innovation at EFInA, Dayo Odulate-Ademola, said on Monday at the Social Media Week.

The CBN through its National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) plans to ensure that 80 percent of Nigerian adults are included in the financial net by the year 2020.

According to the BusinessDay report, the 2018 data by EFInA put Nigeria’s financial inclusion rate at 63.2percent, meaning that as much 36.8 percent or about 40 million adults still lack access.

If the apex bank is to achieve its objective through the strategy launched seven years ago, it would have to bridge the 16.8 percent inclusion gap before year-end.

But the CBN had in a circular on July 2018, lamented that Nigeria was not meeting any of the financial inclusion targets agreed and contained in the 2012 Financial Inclusion Strategy.

Not only was the country not meeting its targets, but it was also declining in growth. For instance, while Nigeria achieved 60.3 percent in 2012, it declined to 58.4 percent in 2016 against a target of 69.5 percent translating to financial exclusion of about 41.6 percent.

To achieve a more inclusive financial system at an affordable rate, industry experts have advised that Nigeria would need to leverage technology to give access to its excluded population.

“To achieve financial inclusion target that the CBN by 2020 technology has to play a massive significant role and what I see technology doing in terms of Nigeria’s financial inclusion is actually to democratize access that is the first thing it does,” the Executive Director at Personal & Business Banking, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Wole Adeniyi, said during a panel session at the Social Media Week on Monday in Lagos.

Telecommunication operators’ push to offer mobile money service, a financial inclusion model that has helped other Africa countries in their programme was recently given an official nod by the regulator, the Central Bank with the issuance of guidelines for players to apply for the licence to operate as payment service banks (PSB).

“The roll-out of Payment Service Banks guidelines that allows licensing of telco subsidiaries is welcome and should be implemented,” International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in April 2019.

About 18  months after the Central Bank loosened its policy to accommodate new players in Nigeria’s financial services industry, the direction of the mobile money initiative remains unclear.

Since October 2018 when the apex bank requested industry players to apply for the licence to operate as a Payment Service Banks, only three firms; Hope PSB a subsidiary of Unified Payment, Globacom’s Money Master and 9Mobile’s 9PSB, have been issued Approval-in-Principle (AIP).

A PSB license will allow the companies to, among other things, maintain savings accounts and accept deposits from individuals and small businesses, which is covered by the deposit insurance scheme; carry out payments and remittance (including cross-border personal remittance) services through various channels within Nigeria; issue debit and prepaid cards, and operate an electronic purse or wallet.

CBN Governor

Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor

According to London-based Group Special Mobile Association (GSMA), “from a regulatory perspective, one basic requirement for mobile money to succeed is to create an open and level-playing field that includes non-bank mobile money providers such as Mobile Network Operators (MNOs).

Before October 2018, only banks and licensed financial institutions were allowed to provide financial services in Nigeria.

Although telecom operators and other Fintech companies indicated interests to operate in the market, the CBN policy would not allow them. The regulator eventually shifted because of the increasing rate of financially excluded people in Nigeria and the lack of progress in getting banks to provide financial services to people living in areas that lack access.

Telco-led financial inclusion model in African countries has led to tremendous progress in the number of people with access to financial services due to the already existing large customer base of the Telcos.

Kenya has about 60 percent mobile money service penetration, while Ghana has about 40 percent service penetration, and Nigeria with a lot more population numbers, remains at 1 percent owing to its bank-led model. 

Ghana’s decision to have a Telco-led model resulted in a 73 percent increase in registered mobile money customers in just one year, according to World Bank data, and has helped lift financial inclusion rates in Ghana to 58 percent in 2017 from 41 percent in 2014.

This was not different for Ivory Coast which has experienced a mobile money revolution. As a result, there are now more adults with mobile money accounts of 24.3 percent than with bank accounts of 15 percent. 

Ivory Coast has the fifth-highest rate of mobile money accounts in the world behind Kenya (58 percent), Somalia (37 percent), Uganda (35 percent), and Tanzania (32 percent), according to Brookings Institute, a Washington-based non-profit public policy organization.

Kenya also improved to 81.6 percent financial inclusion rate in 2017 from 74.7 percent in 2014, Ivory Coast improved to 41.3 percent from 34.3 percent, and South Africa increased marginally to 69.2 percent from 70.3 percent. 

“The new data for 2020 will tell how close to the 80 percent financial inclusion target we’ll land,” Odulate-Ademola said.

Source: BusinessDay

Finance

UBA denies report linking Bank, Tony Elumelu to N41bn NITEL fraud

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UBA Chairman, Tony Elumelu, following up with the proceeding during UBA's virtual AGM on Wednesday, April 29, 2020 - Photo Credit: LinkedIn/Tony Elumelu

The United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc has denied the report credited to the chairman of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, alleging the bank’s involvement and the indictment of its chairman Tony Elumelu in a N41 billion Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) fraud.

NITEL

Nigerian Telecommunications LTD, NITEL office in Lagos (source: Punch/Google

According to a report by THE WITNESS, Mr Elumelu’s lawyers demanded a public apology and retraction of the claim within seven days of receipt of the letter or face legal action.

The said reports credited to Akinyelure alleged the amount was withdrawn “systematically from NITEL for nine years” under the leadership of the UBA.

“Our Client is shocked by this false, baseless, and mischievous allegation as neither him nor any of the organisations associated with him has ever been involved in or indicted for any fraud as was falsely alleged by Senator Ayo Akinyelure,” the letter by Elumelu’s lawyers read.

“Our Client is also alarmed and appalled by this deliberate peddling of falsehood and misinformation against an unblemished personal and business reputation, painstakingly built by our Client over several decades with great personal sacrifice and unquestionable integrity.

“Our Client has instructed us to, and we have demanded an immediate open, public and unreserved retraction of the said statements credited to Senator Akinyelure and an apology from Senator Akinyelure for this false allegation and defamation of our Client,” it added.

Group Managing Director/CEO of UBA, Kennedy Uzoka, is due to appear before the Senate committee on Wednesday.

[Source: The Witness]

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Fintech1000plus honours three telecom network operators, members

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Fintech1000plus

Fintech1000plus, Nigeria’s foremost informal association in the banking, financial and allied technology sector recently honoured three telecommunication companies and some of its members following their immense contributions, sacrifies and support in the association’s CSR COVID-19 intervention for the NCDC.

Leading the honours list as Fintech1000plus Heroes are; Airtel, MTN, Gobalcom, Rev. Sunday Folayan, Sola Fanawopo and other volunteers.

The awards were presented by Abubakar Suleiman, Managing Director Sterling Bank plc and Omoke Adebanjo, Mastercard Senior Vice President, Regional Franchise Lead (Middle East & Africa). Both are members of Fintech1000plus.

Speaking at the virtual event which was held recently, Iyin Aboyeji, Founder Future Africa and member Fintech1000plus said, “after some weeks after COVID-19 hit the country we observed some technology challenges which the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) was having. They included; inability to efficiently disseminate mass media communication & information to all mobile phones concurrently, and incidence reporting which includes; tracking, tracing and citizens action points.”

The association after discussing among its members and interacting with the NCDC decided to put together a number of front-end interfaces that will rapidly use the Covid-19 Risk Assessment triage to quickly analyze information from the public, while storing the information in a backend database for subsequent analysis and follow-up.

The front ends were made up of; Interactive Voice Response system (IVR), USSD application in major Nigerian languages, desktop tools for web-based access, and a mobile APP.

Moreover, as much as possible, make the front ends toll free or ZERO cost to the people, and for the telcos to make the portal access free for such incident response systems.

Acknowledging the outcome of the Fintech1000plus support, the Director General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, commended the association, its telecom partners and volunteers for a job well done.

“The fight against COVID-19 is not a government or public sector battle alone. But that of every stakeholder of the Nigeria project. Fintech1000plus support is well appreciated and a commendable partnership from the private sector. It is our wish that such will continue, not just during this COVID-19 pandemic but in other areas in future”, he said.

Fintech1000plus is an informal association of professionals in the financial technology sector that adopts a pragmatic approach to solving problems, especially those that impact the ability of Nigerians to do business and make payments and Settlements Electronically.

In line with its CSR activities, it played significant roles in the fight against the global Covid-19 pandemic working with NCDC.

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Zenith Bank unveils ‘Zenith Beta Life’, promo to reward customers weekly

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Zenith Bank

Zenith Bank Plc, Nigeria’s leading financial institution, has commenced its “Zenith Beta Life” Promo to reward customers of the Bank with gifts every week starting from 31st July 2020 to 30th July 2021.

During this period, fifty (50) customers will be selected via raffle draw each week and rewarded with gifts worth NGN30,000.

The Promo is open to existing and new Zenith Bank customers with the following raffle qualifying criteria:

  • maintain a minimum deposit of NGN5,000 for the period;
  • request and collect a Zenith Bank Card; and
  • download and register on the Zenith Mobile App or register for *966# EazyBanking.

Zenith Bank Plc is recognised as one of the most customer-focused financial institutions in the country and was voted the most customer-focused bank in Nigeria for the retail and SME segments in the 2018 KPMG Annual Banking Industry Customer Satisfaction Survey (BICSS).

A clear leader in the digital space with several firsts in the deployment of innovative products, solutions and an assortment of alternative channels that ensure convenience, speed and safety of transactions, Zenith Bank has clearly distinguished itself in the Nigerian financial services industry through superior service quality, unique customer experience and sound financial indices.

In recognition of its track record of excellent performance, Zenith Bank was voted as the Best Commercial Bank in Nigeria 2019 by the World Finance and the Best Digital Bank in Nigeria 2019 by Agusto and Co.

The Bank was also recognised as Bank of the Year and Best in Retail Banking at the 2019 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BOFI) Awards.

More recently, the Bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria, for the third consecutive year, in the Banker Magazine “Top 500 Banking Brands 2020”, number one Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital in the “2020 Top 1000 World Banks” Ranking published by The Banker Magazine, Best Bank in Nigeria 2020 in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards 2020, and Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020.

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