A new survey by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revealed that Nigerian banks closed about 234 branches across the country in 2020 alone due to the economic and health crisis brought on by the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic.
The IMF released the results of the twelfth annual financial access survey for 2021. On a general note, the survey results revealed considerable expansion in the usage of digital financial services during the pandemic, while the usage of traditional financial services remained stable.
In specifics, the survey published on the website of the Fund showed also that apart from the cut in the number of branches, 649 Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) were permanently closed from providing financial services to bank customers across the country.
Nigeria’s monetary authorities have been intensifying efforts at expanding banking services across the country with a focus on driving an ambitious financial inclusion target.
A detailed view of the survey showed that the number of registered mobile money agent outlets per 1000 km2 took a downward curve in 2020 to 141.81 in the year under review against the 160.08 recorded in the previous year.
According to the survey, the number of registered mobile money accounts per 1000 adults also decreased from 134.82 in 2019 to 60.9 in 2020.
However, the figure of borrowers from commercial banks per 1000 adults grew from 25.42 in 2019 to 29.61 in the following year when COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the global economy.
The survey showed that latest FAS gender-disaggregated data showed mixed results in terms of women’s financial inclusion owned deposits and loans at commercial banks remained stable or even increased in some countries.
“These results may be partly attributed to gender-sensitive measures taken to support women’s financial access during the pandemic. However, the number of female borrowers per 1,000 female adults fell in several economies and, in some cases, gains from previous years were reversed in 2020,” the IMF’s Financial Access Survey 2021 Trends and Developments showed.
On average, most indicators pointed to unchanged gender gaps in financial access during the pandemic, but given the pre-existing gender gaps, advancing women’s financial access in low- and middle-income economies remained challenging.
The report used two FAS indicators to monitor the Target 8.10 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which aims at strengthening the capacity of domestic financial institutions to expand access to banking and financial services.