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NITDA, CBN to partner on regulation of emerging technologies, payments system

Engr. Ya'u Garba, National Director of NCAIR and Representative of NITDA Director-General, in a Group Photograph with Other Participants at the CBN 2023 Payments System Management Department Retreat, in Abuja, FCT         Photo: NITDA

*Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, asserts that collaborations with stakeholders will boost digital payments, place Nigeria at the forefront as FinTech-driven economy, enhance consumer experience, and lift several people out of poverty

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

In a move to ensure the Nigeria payments system gets more global recognition, and is domestically utilised across the country, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has restated the need for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and financial institutions to collaborate with the agency to leverage emerging technologies, such as Artificial intelligence (AI) and Data Analytics to deepen digital payments.

The Information Technology (IT) regulatory agency Tuesday, November 21, 2023, said Inuwa disclosed this development during a panel discussion segment at the CBN’s 2023 Payments System Management Departmental Retreat programme.

ConsumerConnect reports the main theme of the retreat was, “Future of Payments System: Opportunities, Threats and Propositions”.

Represented at the event by Engr. Ya’u Garba,  National Director of the National Centre for Artificial intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR), the Director-General of NITDA stressed the fact that Financial Technology (FinTech) has so far shown immense ability in driving Nigeria’s performance in the industry and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), especially with the application of developmental regulation approach and enabling policies co-created by the tech ecosystem.

He affirmed that deepening collaborations with key stakeholders would fast-track the realisation of the goal.

Inuwa further emphasised  that upping the game in digital payments would not only continue to put Nigeria at the forefront as FinTech-driven economy but also enhance consumers’ user experience and help move many people out of poverty.

On opportunities, threats of Artificial Intelligence

In his responses to questions regarding Nigeria’s efforts at dealing with the opportunities and threats posed by Artificial intelligence (AI), Inuwa explained that the Federal Government had noticed the trajectory of AI models which have moved from linearly to geometrical in proportions had in the previous administration.

He stated the Nigerian Government had begun to work on Artificial Intelligence Policy through the Agency, which the Director-General said would soon be unveiled to the public.

Inuwa averred: “This AI Policy will form the basis on which all the rules will be highlighted; and Agencies like  NITDA, which is the implementation arm, will be talking about the strategies, framework and guidelines to navigate through its adoption and deployment.

“Although Artificial Intelligence is often regarded as a double-edged sword, the potential and benefits are tangible but not without a lot of threats, and that is apart from the biases that abound, notwithstanding, our regulatory approach has always been not to stifle innovation.”

He equally mentioned other policies of the Federal Government for the industry, noting that the policies are start-up ecosystem-friendly.

According to him, there is the need for deliberate measures to reap the benefits and forestall the impending threats of AI.

Inuwa emphasised that NITDA would be working collaboratively with CBN as with others, in regulating the AI space.

“If CBN adopts a particular technology, the potential of such technology to move quickly is high, stated he.

The NITDA Chief Executive told the audience that the Start-up Bill, which the National Assembly had passed, and assented to by former President Muhammadu Buhari October 2022, would address almost, if not all the bottlenecks plaguing the technology ecosystem the West African country.

FinTech blazing the trail in ecosystem, by Inuwa

The FinTech industry, according to Inuwa, is blazing the trail, but there are a lot more to be tapped from, if AI is explored and exploited accordingly.

Similarly, the Director-General of NITDA emphasised the government would need to work with the United Nations (UN), World Bank, and others to see how such global institutions could help to build the infrastructure for FinTech to foster digital payments, and possibly close the digital gap.

“The Startup Act is deemed to be a positive step forward for the country’s startup ecosystem, and it is expected to have a significant impact on businesses in the technology and innovation space.

“We have other policies tailored towards the bigger picture, like the 3MTT programme by the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, which is expected to generate a pipeline of technical talent in line with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s vision of creating 2 million digital jobs by 2025, National Broadband Plan, Digital Identity Policy and the National Financial Policy which drive the financial inclusion in the country,” Inuwa affirmed.

Payments system should benefit consumers, says CBN Director

Earlier, while welcoming guests to the forum, Musa Jimoh, Director of Payments System Management Department of CBN, harped on the need to look into the future and embrace things that are contemporary to Nigeria and the world at large.

Jimoh said stakeholders should ensure that all the thinking behind payments system should be hinged on how it could benefit the common man in the street.

The CBN Director stated: “Everything we do in Central Bank of Nigeria, if it cannot benefit the common man in the street, then we have done nothing because the payments system is not for us but for the public good, especially as everybody uses it.

“As such, our thinking should always be what can we do to ease the pain, reduce cost, serve and make things more efficient and available to the common man on the street and indeed to all Nigerians, whether in the country or in the Diaspora.”

The Retreat of Payments System Management Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria brought together payments industry experts and stimulated discussions around innovations in the Payments System space.

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