Industry experts at the second National Fintech Conference have identified the major loopholes in Nigeria’s financial technology industry, saying that a purpose driven vehicle needs to be created for financial inclusion through the use of technology.
Speaking as a panellist at the conference held in Lagos, on the theme; ‘Developing and sustaining unique digital finance solutions for Africa and infrastructure implications’, John Obaro, chief executive officer (CEO), Systemspecs said that; “although Nigeria’s Fintech space has developed considerable in the past year, we need to speak to the policy framework to stop restricting fintech operations to banks.”
Obaro told BusinessDay that; “Fintech, banks, telcos are all artificial boundaries. The main problem that needs to be solved is that people need to make payments, so whether it is a bank, telco or Fintech Company that is behind it, does not really matter. I don’t think we should continue to chain down ourselves either by regulation or by history and refuse to do obvious things that need to be done for financial inclusion.”
“I am not one of those who are averse to the idea of telcos coming into the fintech space because there is value when you are able to collaborate with people in the value chain and not just restrict services to one sector,” Obaro said.
In agreement, Funke Opeke, CEO of MainOne, who was also a member of the panel said that technology is driving force of inclusiveness, and with telecom services coverage down to local government areas (LGAs), infrastructure development is all that is needed to bring people into the financial services sector.
“When you look at the amount of cash transactions made in Nigeria today in comparison with the amount of money moved electronically, you will certainly recognise that banks have embraced technology but the good thing is that fintech allows others apart from banks to participate in that value chain.
Obaro used the example of Remita, a single app connected to multiple banks, providing convenience for users to make payment and companies like Interswitch and Paga as disruptors in the fintech industry. However, he stressed that Nigeria is capable of doing a lot more in that space, if the government projects these success stories even outside the country.
“If you don’t blow your trumpet nobody will blow it for you. Many of these technology solutions that we have, would have been more promoted if they had come out from western countries, but in Nigeria, we still need to learn the art of projecting our own positively,” Obaro said.
Also speaking, Babatunde Badejo, CEO, Soft Alliance hinged on the fact that to tap into the major benefits of financial inclusion and fintech, Nigeria needs to have a reliable data base which can be tapped into.
“For people without a Bank Verification Number (BVN), a better option would have been the National Identity Management System (NIMC) for registered and harmonised data. But now, not many people can access loans, because of non-traceable identities,” Badejo said.
The 2018 edition of the National Fintech Conference features over 800 participants consisting of a wide array of individuals and corporate organisations across the world, with a view to charting a clear course for the speedy and efficient proliferation of fintech in Nigeria and Africa.
Jumoke Akiyode- Lawanson