Nigerian Market Women Transacting Financial Services on a Mobile Phone

Why Nigeria missed goal of improving access to financial services ─Report

*Experts say almost 36 percent of Nigerian adults do not have a formal bank account despite the Federal Government’s efforts at reducing the figure to 20 percent by 2020, to attain financial inclusion in the country

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Against the backdrop of the damaging effects of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and difficulty in penetrating rural areas across the country weighing on the effort, a report has said that Nigeria fell short of its goal of bringing more consumers into the country’s regulated financial system.

According to EFInA, a U.K.-backed development organisation that seeks to bolster up inclusive finance in the country, in a report Thursday, June 3, 2021, almost 36 percent Nigerian adults did not have any kind of bank account as of the end of 2020, Bloomberg report said.

It is also noted that the figure was little changed from two years ago and well above the Federal Government’s objective of cutting the proportion of Nigerians without financial access to 20 percent, which it set in 2013.

It was learnt the West African country has sought to bring more consumers into the formal financial sector as part of the efforts at modernising the economy, bolster tax collection, and cut back on informal jobs that often exploit workers in Nigeria.

As a buildup towards achieving the goal of improved financial inclusion in the ecosystem, the country had licensed banks, wireless carriers and technology companies to offer services as part of efforts to broaden access, especially for the two-thirds of the population living outside the cities.

However, EFInA stated that job losses tied to the disruptive pandemic and physical distancing measures hurt the efforts to broaden access to banking products and services in the country.

Young adults are more excluded than older adults, with 47 percent of consumers in the age brackets of 18 to 25 lacking access to financial services, according to EFInA.

The firm further noted in the report that financially excluded are mostly dependents, reside in rural areas and have low education.

EFInA added: “Growth in digital financial services, agent networks and mobile phone ownership now at 81% highlights the opportunity to drive faster financial inclusion.”

“At the current rate of progress, the national financial inclusion strategy targets for 2020 will not be met until around 2030.”

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