From Uche Usim, Abuja
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Wednesday revealed that 36 per cent of adult Nigerians do not have access to financial services, assuring that efforts were in top gear to bridge the financial exclusion gap leveraging on technology and eNaira that would be ‘launched in a couple of days.’
The Deputy Governor, Corporate Services of the CBN, Mr Edward Lamtek Adamu made the disclosure at the opening ceremony of rjrb31st CBN-sponsored seminar for Finance Correspondents and Business Editors in Enugu themed: “Trends in Nigerian Payment System: Regulating the FinTech Digital Playing Field”.
According to him, the apex bank would continue to improve access to finance for individuals and businesses through digital channels in order to improve financial inclusion, lower the cost of transactions, and increase the flow of credit to businesses.
He noted that Nigeria’s robust payment system has continued to evolve towards meeting the needs of households and businesses in Nigeria.
‘The high level of confidence in our payment system, between 2015 and 2020, has attracted the investment of about $500m in firms run by Nigerian founders,’ he said.
‘The Central Bank of Nigeria decided to introduce a central bank digital currency, the eNaira, which would help in attaining our goals of fostering greater inclusion using digital channels, supporting cross border payments for businesses and firms as well as providing a reliable channel for remittances inflows into the country.
‘With the deployment of the eNaira, Nigerians in remote areas can conduct financial activities using their digital as well as features on phone devices. Partnering with our stakeholders in the financial industry, I believe that more Nigerians will be financially included.’
Adamu described the theme of the seminar as apt in view of an increasingly evolving banking landscape characterised by an acceleration in the digitalisation of financial services which is facilitated by Fintechs, open banking and emerging new technologies.
He revealed that over the past 14 years, the Nigerian payment system has evolved significantly with extensive technological development backed by deliberate enabling regulation by the CBN. This he added, has accelerated the development of novel financial products, services and channels all of which have placed Nigeria at the forefront of the financial innovation race.
He added that due to the lockdowns associated with the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, financial traffic to digital platforms increased significantly in 2020; and has galvanised discussions around the issue of the digital economy just as more opportunities have come up for financial institutions and other players within the payment ecosystem to innovate and provide more efficient options for payments and settlements.
He emphasised that the post-COVID economy is predicted to be dominated by certain trends including a radically altered financial industry landscape as the accelerated shift towards digital financial services will attract more fintech investment and encourage competition to traditional financial institutions.
“This calls for an Increased and intensive regulatory scrutiny on the part of regulators to proactively monitor developments and ensure the continuous safety and soundness of the financial ecosystem. It is therefore imperative that Regulators must keep pace with these exponential developments and leverage new knowledge and technology tools such as Regtech and Suptech to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of their mandate.
‘From all indications, the digital revolution will be a focus for financial institutions in the months ahead, therefore, making Fintechs a major driver of the industry. Technology continues to change the face of the financial services industry,’ he added.