Tayo Oviosu, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Paga, a mobile payments company, took to Twitter to reveal his takes on financial inclusion in Nigeria. In the thread, he revealed that “all Nigerians are underbanked and this is a sad reality.

On the tweet thread, Oviosu pointed out a scenario of how to purchase a car in the United States – which does not involve informing your bank in advance. Oviosu said his company has wasted 6 months talking to the largest bank in Africa and Nigeria in to get a car loan for 6 vehicles, which end on a futile note.

In response, a Twitter user tweeted on the thread that Nigerian banks are just money doublers and they don’t support business.

Are Nigerians underbanked?

Nigeria today has 21 commercial banks, 942 microfinance banks, and numerous financial technology (fintech) and mobile money operators, yet the Nigerian adult population is under-banked. A bulk of this unbanked population comprises rural dwellers, farmers, and petty traders.

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had set a financial inclusion target of reaching 80 per cent of the total adult population by 2020, but presently, Nigeria is not on track to meet this target which was set out in the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) of 2012. The NFIS had set two financial inclusion targets for the year 2020: an overall financial inclusion rate of 80% of the adult population and a formal financial inclusion rate of 70% of the adult population. As of 2016, just 58.4% of Nigeria’s 96.4 million adults were financially served and only 48.6% of all adults used formal financial services.

What can be done to salvage the situation?

Obviously, ignorance has played a great role in preventing the unbanked from getting formal financial services. This can be reduced through active corporate social responsibility (CSR) by banks to create the needed awareness among the adult population, especially the rural dwellers.

There is need for the regulators, operators and the banking populace to collaborate. Dipo Fatokun, CBN’s Director of banking and payment system, said this is the only way that Nigeria can drive financial inclusion.

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Mobile network operators (MNOs) can also provide mobile money services to subscribers. MTN has recently announced its plans in that regard. MTN is planning to obtain a payment banking license in Nigeria by the second quarter of 2019. Considering that they have the largest market share in the telecom space in Nigeria and many of these unbanked are existing subscribers, this will go a long way in reducing the unbanked population in Nigeria.

Famuyiwa Damilare is a trained journalist. He holds a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Mass Communication at the prestigious Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). Damilare is an innovative and transformational leader with broad-based expertise in journalism and media practice at large. He has explored his proven ability in the areas of reporting, curating and generating contents, creatively establishing social media engagements, and mobile editing of videos. It is safe to say he’s a multimedia journalist.

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