Financial Inclusion is the provision of a broad range of high quality financial products (such as savings, credit, insurance, payments and pensions) which are appropriate and affordable, to serve the needs of the entire adult population and especially the low income segment. Many Nigerians, for numerous reasons, are unbanked and lack access to formal financial services. Billions of naira circulate through the informal sector and this has a negative impact on the country’s economic growth and development.
The results of EFInA’s Access to Financial Services in Nigeria 2010 survey were also launched at the Forum. Modupe Ladipo, Chief Executive Officer, EFInA said, “The results of the 2010 survey showed that 39.2 million Nigerians representing 46.3% of the adult population are financially excluded. Only 25.4 million Nigerians are banked representing 30.0% of the adult population”. The unbanked adult population dropped from 78.9% in 2008 to 70.0% in 2010.
Ms Ladipo said, “One of the biggest hurdles to improving access to retail financial services is the absence of relevant and reliable data and analysis about how individuals and households manage their finances. The EFInA Access to Financial Services in Nigeria 2010 survey serves to bridge that gap and demonstrate the opportunities to extend financial services to the unbanked and under-banked low income segment”.
The keynote speaker was Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, who was represented by Dr. Kingsley Moghalu, Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability. He commended EFInA for its efforts in providing data on the financial sector which complements the efforts of the apex bank on statistical and research related matters. He stated that “Economic growth would proceed at a faster and more sustainable rate if all segments of the population have access to financial services”. He also stated that, “Financial inclusion goes well beyond microfinance and that the CBN is committed in ensuring that going forward, financial services providers work more effectively to drive the strategic imperative of financial inclusion”. The CBN will work closely with EFInA to promote financial inclusion in Nigeria.
The international guest speakers were Stephen Nduati, Assistant Director, Banking Services, Central Bank of Kenya and Carlos Moya, Director, Banca de las Oportunidades, Columbia. They both shared their views on financial inclusion from the perspective of policy initiatives, regulations and innovations in their jurisdictions. Mr. Moya stated that “By increasing the geographical outreach of the financial system, through the use of nonbank agents, Columbia has increased the banked population from 47% to 63% from 2006 to 2010”. There are currently over 9,000 agents and the value of transactions through these agents during this period was US$4.7 billion. Mr. Nduati stated that the “Key to the success of creating a financially inclusive system, is an enabling regulatory environment that supports innovation”.
“EFInA will continue to support financial services providers to create innovative products and services in the effort to extend financial services to the unbanked and low income population, through the provision of grants from the EFInA Innovation Fund”, said Yewande Adewusi, Programme Manager, EFInA.