NorthEast and Southeast regions have the least access to banking, a report on financial access touch-points released yesterday has shown.
With five per cent financial access touch-points for the Northeast and seven per cent for the Southeast, both regions remain disadvantaged in access to financial services despite efforts by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Bankers’ Committee and commercial banks to take banking to the grassroots, the Shared Agent Network Expansion Facility (SANEF) report has shown.
The CBN has voted N20 billion for banks, Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS), licensed Mobile Money Operators and Shared Agents to accelerate financial inclusion and take banking to more Nigerians.
Southwest is leading on financial access touch-points with 54 per cent; Southsouth 12 per cent; Northcentral 11 per cent and Northwest 10 per cent. It said Nigeria has 5,600 bank branches, 17,600 Automated Teller Machines (ATMs); 15,000 Point of Sale terminals and 51,754 Agents as at December last year.
A member of Technical Committee of SANEF, Bolaji Lawal, said the SANEF initiative involves on-boarding 40 million low income and un-served Nigerians into the financial system, increasing financial access points from the current 50,000 to 500,000 by 2020 and deepening access to mobile and digital financial products and services such as savings accounts, microloans, insurance, pensions by Nigerians.
He explained that the project seeks to deepen financial inclusion through an integrated ecosystem with strong regulatory oversight, consumer protection and interoperable payment systems with limited concentration risk. “It will create a platform for Nigerian owned financial services companies to grow, whilst empowering and creating jobs for Nigerians. So, wherever you see the SANEF sign, you can perform basic financial services such as account opening, cash deposits, cash withdrawals, funds transfers and bills payments,” he said at a media briefing in Lagos .
He said the project is expected to reduce transaction costs, bring about convenience, create job opportunities, and increased adoption of financial services. The platform is also expected to handle government’s social disbursements initiatives. It will also lead to reduced cash dependency, better tax collections and reduction in crime rates.
He said the SANEF will help the banks achieve 70 million Bank Verification Number (BVN) Bank Accounts by 2020 from about 34 million at present.
He explained that Nigeria’s financial inclusion model is similar to Indian model, where over 1.2 billion people gained access to financial services.
He said that BVN roll-out is aggressive with NIBSS already partnering with Agent Managers appointed by banks, Other Financial Institutions, Mobile Money Operators, Super Agents and other licenced Nigerian companies for remote BVN enrollments. NIBSS will ensure training of Agent/Managers to ensure proper hand-holding as may be required for the BVN enrollment process.
“NIBSS is expected to provide the BVN enrollment devices for the agents. Remote capture devices will be made available to agents across Nigeria particularly rural areas with priority for North East, North Central and North West. NIBSS will pay N100 to agents for every unique BVN enrolled and targets 40 million unique BVN by 2020,” he said.
He said BVN enrollment in 774 Local Government Areas across the country will commence in September and that Nigeria had adopted the Indian financial inclusion model where over 1.2 billion people are uniquely identified.
He said the Nigeria target is to achieve 70 million BVN target by 2020 and create more access to financial system especially at the grassroots.