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CBN directs banks to raise financial products quality

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed banks to raise the quality of their products and services to attract more people into the financial system.

CBN Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, disclosed this at the release of the 2023 EFInA Access to Finance (A2F) Survey results in Lagos.

He said: “As an ecosystem, we must redouble our efforts to develop innovative solutions to enable inclusion and be intentional about how we do it.

For instance, the access points effective for included populations might not be suitable for those currently excluded. The products and services that we have developed to get us this far will need refinement to ensure that they are fit for purpose for the next phase of this journey.”

According to him, the Nigerian financial system has evolved with significant improvements in size and depth, especially in the areas of market development, products, instruments, and payment infrastructure, among other things, thus, reinforcing the need for us as regulators and stakeholders to constantly keep pace with these emerging developments in a sustainable manner.

Cardoso, who was represented by, CBN Director, Other Financial Institutions Supervision Department, Chibuike Nwagerue, lauded all financial inclusion stakeholders for the efforts made and the progress achieved.

“However, to achieve the target of 95 percent financial inclusion, we must all move from collaboration to concrete commitment. To that effect, I call on all Financial Inclusion implementation agencies to set up specific functions or units dedicated to financial inclusion in their various organizations. This we believe, will provide the necessary ownership and commitment required to achieve our collective goal,” he said.

Cardoso, who spoke on the theme: Building a More Inclusive and Sustainable Economy: The Role of Financial Inclusion” said financial inclusion is a key developmental objective and a global initiative recognized by several countries worldwide.

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“To buttress the importance of Financial Inclusion to National development, over 68 countries have developed and are currently implementing a National Financial Inclusion Strategy. At its core, financial inclusion provides the opportunity for equitable distribution of financial resources to support economic growth. It also contributes to the attainment of the Central Bank’s goals of monetary policy and price stability. An inclusive financial system that allows broad access to a wide range of formal financial services is essential for better transmission of monetary policy and in the attainment of its objectives,” he said. The report, which shows the Northern Nigeria has the least access to financial services.

The report disclosed that exclusion from financial services  continues to be most severe in Northern Nigeria, at 38 per cent in the North East and 47 per cent in the North West compared to only five per cent  in the South West and 10 per cent in the South South.

The A2F survey is Nigeria’s primary source of financial inclusion data and is designed to assess access to and use of financial services for the adult (18+) Nigerian population. The methodology for the 2023 survey has been updated to reflect changing population dynamics, and 2018 and 2020 data also updated using the same methodology to enable comparison.

The 2023 results show that 26 per cent of Nigerians are financially excluded, down from 32 per cent in 2020, demonstrating clear progress towards the Nigeria Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS 3.0) recommended target to reduce levels of financial exclusion in Nigeria to 25 per cent by 2024.

The report said usage of broader financial services remains limited demonstrating the urgent need to focus on the quality and impact of inclusion. While credit use doubled to is six per cent, pension and insurance use remained at eight per cent and three per cent respectively, well below 2024 target levels.

Commenting on the results of the Survey, EFInA Chair Dr Agnes Martins said: “We are seeing encouraging progress towards the NFIS 3.0 recommended goal to reduce exclusion to 25 per cent by 2024, and we must acknowledge all the good work that has gone into making this happen. However, we also have to be clear that 26 per cent exclusion means that 28.8 million adult Nigerians continue to be completely excluded from the financial system.

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