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Experts Call for Digital Financial Inclusion in Nigeria

By Dipo Olowookere

Stakeholders and experts in the financial system have agreed that Nigeria’s development agenda should incorporate digital financial inclusion.

Consequently, governments and relevant agencies in the country have been challenged to work together and execute policies that will promote this system.

Speaking at the Financial Inclusion Conference 2017 organised by the Lagos Business School (LBS), in collaboration with BusinessDay, Microsave and International Finance Corporation (IFC) on Tuesday, Board Chairman of EfinA, Ms Modupe Ladipo, who is one of the panellists, said that consumer protection was essential in financial inclusion as different consumers have different needs.

“As a matter of necessity, we need to embark on research to know what our diverse population of consumers want. Let us move from office-led practice of operations to a consumer-led practice,” she counselled.

She stated further that Nigeria must meet global standards of operations, urging regulators to be more flexible and drive policies that would satisfy customers.

At the conference, the Sustainable and Inclusive Digital Financial Services initiative of LBS launched the Digital Financial Services in Nigeria: State of the Market Report 2017.

The report contains evidence-based insights on the state of financial inclusion in the country. Using consumer demographic profiles, the report describes the characteristics of potential financial services customers and also presents an examination of the policy and legal statutes guiding financial inclusion, while proffering market-enabling strategies for attaining the Central Bank of Nigeria’s commitment of 20 percent financial inclusion by 2020.

Dean of LBS, Dr Enase Okonedo, who delivered the opening remarks, said that financial inclusion has become a global trend and LBS organised the conference so that Nigeria could achieve the desired objectives of the policy.

On his part, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Banking and Currency, Mr Jones Onyereri, assured that despite the challenges encountered, government would give apt attention to the players by creating a favourable avenue for financial inclusion to thrive in the country.

He highlighted the activities of the legislature to ensure that Nigeria is financially inclusive.

“The Cyber Crimes and Electronic Transactions Act were passed by the legislative body in Nigeria to bolster financial inclusion in Nigeria. It ensured ease of doing business in Nigeria,” he said.

Lory Camba Opem, Program Lead for Responsible Finance at IFC Microfinance and Digital Financial Services, said that, in addition to making all agencies and stakeholders collaborate for the common good of achieving Nigeria’s financial inclusion objectives, digital literacy and financial education were key factors to explore.

“Consumers need awareness to enable them make the right decisions for them to be inclusive, and our policies must encompass all aspects of consumer education and privacy protection,” she stated.

Gregory Chen, Head of Policy, CGAP, said that due to Nigeria’s cultural diversity, adoption of different modules or policies could be beneficial in bridging the gap in financial inclusion across the country.

Dr Olayinka David-West, Project Lead, Sustainable and Inclusive Digital Financial Services (SIDFS) Initiative at LBS, enjoined all stakeholders to roll up their sleeves to make the issues of financial inclusion work in Nigeria.

She thanked the collaborating partners, speakers, delegates and financial experts for pouring out their views and opinions and emphasised the need for a synergy in Nigeria’s financial ecosystem, which the LBS is trying to bring to fruition through the platform.

The 2017 conference collaborators, Frank Aigbogun, Publisher and CEO, BusinessDay Media, revealed the strong interest of the media organisation in the issue of financial inclusion in Nigeria, which explains the reason for the partnership, while Jacqueline Jumah, Senior Analyst in charge of Digital Financial Services, Microsave and Faculty at the Helix Institute, commended LBS for being at the forefront of impacting the practice of management in Nigeria and Africa.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

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