As part of efforts to expand the number of banking community in Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), commercial bank operators and other stakeholders in the financial sector, yesterday, met and deliberated on ways to bring in additional 7.6 million Nigerians into the banking sector this year alone. The Deputy Governor of the apex bank, Financial System Stability, Dr Okwu Nnanna said while addressing members of the Financial Inclusion State Steering Committee (FISSCO) Regional Capacity Building Programme in Abuja that, “The Vulnerable segments in our society remain a major concern for financial inclusion as they constitute a large proportion of the excluded population”. Dr. Nnanna said 46.3 per cent of females without access to formal financial services was out of the banking community in 2016 compared to 36.8 per cent of men.
“A world disability study on people living with disability showed that 25 million Nigerians were living with one form of disability or the other and this acts as a hindrance to accessing basic financial products and services. “In addition to women and people with disabilities, vulnerable segments can further include youth, rural communities and internally displaced persons and they all should form part of our focus,’’ Nnanna said. In his opinion, affordable savings, credit payment, insurance and pension products should be designed, targeted at the vulnerable groups in the society, with a focus on increasing the number of financially included Nigerians. The deputy governor urged commercial banks and micro finance banks to increase sensitisation to rural areas on the use of Point of Sale (POS), ATMs, and Cashless mobile money services.
Head, Digital Financial Services of the central bank, Mr. Stephen Ambore said getting the unbanked people to have access to financial services would contribute to economic development. Giving a region by region breakdown on financial exclusion rate in the country, he said that the North-West was the most financially excluded zone with an exclusion rate of 70 per cent. He said that second region with the highest financial exclusion rate was the North-East with a 62 per cent exclusion rate. The North Central, according to him, had a 39 per cent exclusion rate while South-South had a financial exclusion rate of 31 per cent, and South-East, 28 per cent. Ambore commended the South West, which he said had the lowest financial exclusion rate, which currently stands at about 18 per cent. He attributed the challenges facing financial inclusion in the country to illiteracy, religious and cultural factors, security challenges and inappropriate financial service products and slow penetration of financial services in rural areas.
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