The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has set a target of 7.6 million new savings accounts for Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and Microfinance banks. the target is to  enable the apex bank meet its financial inclusion target.

This was disclosed by Mrs. Elizabeth O. Agu, the Abuja Branch controller at the inauguration of Financial Inclusion States’ Steering Committee (FISSCO) in Abuja.

What is financial inclusion ?

Financial inclusion is the provision of a broad range of high quality financial products, such as savings, credit, insurance, payments and pensions, which are relevant, appropriate and affordable for the entire adult population, and especially the low income segment.

Why is financial inclusion important ? 

Drawing the unbanked into the banking system gives access to resources which can be channelled for development. Funds running into billions of Naira are present outside the banking system, mostly because a large part of the population is involved in the  informal sector.

Mixed records for Nigeria

Financial inclusion has had mixed success in Nigeria. Banking services are gradually percolating to the lower income, especially through mobile banking apps and USSD codes. Other sub sets of the financial services industry such as insurance and pensions are lagging behind. Some analysts have also argued that users of the mobile banking apps and USSD codes, were customers already using the traditional banking products.

Opening accounts is not enough

Setting targets for new accounts does not solve the underlying reasons why financial inclusion in Nigeria remains low. Poor literacy in the country, remains a stumbling  block as most banking services are rendered in English, save for the microfinance banks that have more interaction with the lower income and uneducated.

The lack of a central identification system means basic identification is lacking. Many Nigerians are yet to get a national ID card, years after they had their biometrics taken.