The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), sensing that it is lagging behind in the provision of good financial services to Nigerians, has pledged to take steps to change the situation through the implementation of the Nigerian Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS).
PANA, quoting from the CBN website, reported that as at 2010, only 36.3% of the country's adult population out of 84.7 million were served by formal financial services compared to 68% in South Africa and 41% in Kenya.
It therefore felt that it is lagging behind some of its peer countries in Africa.
In view of this development, the CBN has released new guidelines for the take-off of the next level of implementation of the strategy.
The NFIS is part of the CBN’s efforts to reduce the percentage of adult Nigerians that are excluded from financial services from the 2010 figure to 20% by 2020.
The new guidelines include promoting increased awareness of its financial inclusion strategy, the setting up of a financial inclusion secretariat, the establishment of a financial inclusion committee, development and running of pilot schemes.
According to the website, the CBN hopes to pursue this goal through a broad range of coordinated interventions, with high priority on the following -- Firstly, the transformation of existing Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations into a simplified risk based tiered framework that allows individuals who do not currently meet formal identification requirements to enter the banking system.
Secondly, the development and implementation of a Regulatory Framework for Agent Banking to enable financial institutions to bring banking services to the unbanked in all parts of the country; and the Development and implementation of a National Financial Literacy Framework to increase awareness and understanding of financial products and services, with the aim of increasing sustainable usage.
Part of the financial sector regulator’s strategy as outlined under the new guidelines includes setting specific targets for payments, savings, credit, insurance, pensions, Deposit Money Banks (DMB) and Micro Finance Bank (MFB) branches, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and Point of Sales(POS).
Variety of stakeholders had been identified to support the implementation of the strategy and their roles and responsibilities defined.
According to the NFIS document, the number of Nigerians included in the formal sector would increase from 36.3% recorded in 2010 to 70% by 2020.
Other areas to be addressed include the implementation of a comprehensive consumer protection framework to safeguard the interest of clients and sustain confidence in the financial sector.
Pursuing the the Mobile Payment System and other cash-less policies to reduce costs and increase the ease of financial services and transactions.
The CBN also plans to implement the Credit Enhancement Schemes/Programmes to empower micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
Financial inclusion is achieved when adults have easy access to a broad range of formal financial services that meet their needs and are provided at an affordable cost.