We ll Achieve 80% Financial Inclusion 2020 – CBN

Barbara Bako, Abuja

The Central Bank of Nigeria on Thursday said with optimism that the 80 per cent financial inclusion target, which was set by the Federal Government in 2012 would be achieved. The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele said this in Abuja at a national financial literacy stakeholders’ conference held in Abuja. The conference had as it’s theme, “Implementing financial literacy and consumer protection to advance financial inclusion in Nigeria.

” The Federal Government had in 2012 launched the National Financial Inclusion Strategy aimed at reducing the number of eligible adult Nigerians that are excluded from the formal financial system from 46.3 per cent to 20 per cent by the year 2020. But with two years to the 2020 target, recent data released by Enhancing Financial Innovative and Access indicates that 36.6 million eligible Nigerian adults which is about 36.8 per cent still do not have access to financial services.

This development, according to the  apex bank governor, underscores the need to work hard on the exclusion rate from this year till 2020. To achieve the 2020 financial inclusion target, the governor at the event unveiled four policy documents for the financial sector. They are the revised National Financial Inclusion Strategy, the Financial Literacy Framework, the Consumer Protection Framework and the Consumer Education Framework. He said these policy documents are targeted at facilitating the attainment of the financial inclusion target of 80 per cent by 2020.

Represented at the event by the Deputy Governor, Financial Systems Stability, Mrs Aisha Ahmad, he said, “During the course of implementing the National Financial Inclusion Strategy which was launched by the President in October 2012, the need arose for the review of the strategy to meet the challenges and re-assess the developments and the current realities, of the ever-evolving environment in which we operate.

“With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, we now have a revised strategy which we believe, with your support, would aid us as we strive to meet our year 2020 target of reaching 80 per cent financial inclusion level.” On the Consumer Protection Framework, he said this was developed to provide policy direction for the enthronement of a robust consumer protection regime in the banking and financial services industry.

The governor said although it was developed for banks and other financial institutions regulated by the CBN, there was extensive consultation with the entire stakeholders of the larger environment. He said the document, which is the first of its kind, provides policy direction for the banking industry and also serves as guide for other sub sectors of the financial system. For the National Financial Literacy Framework, the apex bank boss said this framework would provide a high-level roadmap for the implementation of various financial literacy programmes for different identified target groups of the Nigerian population.

For the National Financial Education Strategy, Emefiele said this was developed to operationalize the National Financial Literacy Framework. Unlike the NFLF which provides strategic direction for financial education programmes on a high level, he said the NFES provides granular activities and actions aimed at ensuring the effective implementation of the NFLF. He said, “It is aimed at assisting with detail identification of programmes, players and partners that could implement or facilitate their smooth implementation.

“The document is fashioned around, and takes into account, the various consumer segments identified by the NFLF.” He said the CBN is also promoting new initiatives to positively drive financial inclusion statistics in the near term. He gave some of them as the recently introduced regulations and guidelines for the licensing and operations of Payment Service Banks. This, he added, would leverage technology to promote financial inclusion and enhance access to financial services for the unbanked and underserved segments of the population.

He also said the initiative would drive down exclusion rates by leveraging wider variety of market participants, leveraging technology and multiple channels to enhance access to deposit products, payments and remittance services to small/micro businesses and low income households. The CBN governor said the apex bank in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee and other stakeholders is facilitating a national Micro Finance Bank to promote access to finance for credit to fund Small and Medium Enterprises and other unbanked groups.

“The national MFB shall be technology driven and leverage NIPOST’s presence in 774 local gifts and would serve as an efficient channel for the disbursement and monitoring of key intervention funds such as the Anchor borrowers fund, SME fund etc to farmers and SMEs at the grass roots level,” he added. The Director, Consumer Protection Department, CBN, Mr Kofo Salam-Alada said that despite the strides towards fostering financial inclusion, there are significant challenges.

He gave some of them as dearth of financial literacy and awareness amongst consumers and a general lack of confidence in dealing with financial institutions. He said these issues can only be addressed through robust financial literacy and consumer protection programmes. He said if consumers are not adequately protected, they are bound to be apathetic towards the system.

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