By Babajide Komolafe
THE Central Bank of THE Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Committee of E-Business Industry Heads (CeBIH) should collaborate with stakeholders in the electronic payment industry to develop a framework of incentives and disincentives to promote financial inclusion in the country.Chairman of Secure ID Limited, Mr. Adedotun Sulaiman made this call in a keynote address delivered at the just concluded annual retreat of CeBIH held in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Speaking on the theme of the retreat, “Repositioning Digital Payments to achieve the Financial Inclusion Goals of FSS 20:2020”, he identified the need to develop incentives and disincentives to promote financial inclusion as one the factors that will facilitate adoption of digitization to drive financial inclusion.Represented by the Divisional Chief Executive Officer, Interswitch, Financial Inclusion, Mr. Mike Ogbalu, Sulaiman, also cited the need for regulators and policy makers to encourage innovation around development and widespread mobile technologies and their integration with banking infrastructure, which he noted, “has increasingly enabled the delivery of convenient banking services to demographics and locations previously under-served, on the back of increasing access to data and devices by more people in emerging markets”.He also stressed on the need to encourage banks and other large, traditional financial service providers to extend their outreach by leveraging third party agents, agent network managers in order to increase their reach among the populace.
Challenging operators in the financial services sector to learn from consumer goods and mobile telecoms firms in order to develop strategies to increase financial service reach and penetration among Nigerians, Sulaiman said: “Today in Nigeria, access to mobile telecommunications has reached over 125 million Nigerians and the numbers are still growing. While the telco subscription has been phenomenal in terms of reach and penetration, it has regrettably been difficult to translate these successes into financial services reach.“A significant population of rural and economically-deprived Nigerians remains underserved and financially-excluded. This is largely due to limited financial services access points which is a function of the huge investment required to build and sustain brick-and-mortar bank branches, as well as the complexities of managing large, country-wide agent networks.“It is also pertinent to highlight the instructive lesson that the financial services sector needs to rapidly absorb very useful insights from the experiences of consumer goods and mobile services industries, which happen to have leapfrogged banking as far as achieving far greater outreach and penetration of their products and services, and herein lie the imperatives for industry players. Specifically, these insights lie in the following areas: Understanding consumer needs and staying connected as the needs evolve; Designing products that adequately address those needs and create a customer pull; Leveraging and riding on deep, broad, and resilient, third party distribution networks which are not necessarily part of their owned infrastructure; and effective branding, marketing, promotion and active consumer engagement and education”.
Chairman of CeBIH, Mr. Dele Adeyinka, while addressing participants, said that the retreat is in fulfillment of the mandate of the Committee, which among other things is to promote global best practices in the implementation of strategies for electronic banking in Nigeria and facilitate a forum for interaction and exchange of information, ideas and experiences among banks, service providers, regulators and all other stakeholders in the electronic payment space in Nigeria.
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