Allowing mobile operators to provide mobile money accounts can be a game changer for financial inclusion in Nigeria. This was the submission of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, Her Majesty, Queen Maxima of Netherlands, when she visited the country.
She urged stakeholders to prioritise the development of inclusive retail e-payments system that serves as a basis to distribute other financial services such as savings, payment, credit and insurance services.
Mobile money usage is still very low in the country and has not changed significantly since 2014. The 206 access to financial services in Nigeria by Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA), revealed that registered mobile money users rose to 0.8 percent in 2016 from 0.5 percent in 2014. The percentage of people who use mobile money services but are not registered dropped to 0.2 percent in 2016 from 0.3 percent in 2014. Also the percentage of people who have used mobile money before but not any more declined from 0.4 percent in 2014 to 0.3 percent in 2016.
The report show that the percentage of people who are not registered and have never used mobile money services decreased slightly to 98.7 percent in 2016 from 98.8 percent in 2014.
Rafiu Ibrahim, chairman senate committee on banking and financial institutions, said the Government would support mobile banking efforts, and lay the framework to permit mobile network operators to deepen its penetration.
The Chair of EFInA’s Board, Modupe Ladipo, shared key barriers responsible for increasing the financially excluded population in Nigeria. She indicated that “generally, income levels in Nigeria are very low. 19.6 percent of Nigerians mainly get their source of income from non-farming business while 19.1 percent get theirs from family business (subsistence or commercial farming).
Only 4.2 percent of the adult population get their source of income from the formal sector. In addition, she commented that EFInA observed that the North has a high level of financial exclusion. This is as a result of massive job losses, limited resources and no basic necessities of opening a bank account. Out of 96.4 million adults in Nigeria, 56.3 million (58.4% of the adult population) are now financially served. 40.1 million Nigerian adults (41.6 percent of the adult population) are financially excluded (without any form of access to financial services). The National Financial Inclusion Strategy target is to lower this figure to 20.0 percent of the adult population by 2020’’.