23 November 2012

Nigeria: Sanusi - Value of Mobile Banking Transactions Rises to N4 Billion

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, has disclosed that the value of transactions through mobile banking has increased significantly to N4 billion monthly, compared to the N20 million it was beginning of the year.

Sanusi said this in an interview with journalists at the sideline of a forum organised by the Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA) in Lagos Thursday.

He also revealed that out of the 160,000 Point of Sale (PoS) terminals deployed in Lagos, only about 25,000 are functional, assuring that the apex bank would continue to work with telecommunication companies to ensure that the PoS machines are effective.

He added: "We started this year with about 10,000 PoS terminals in Lagos, today; we have about 160,000, and about 25,000 active. We started mobile banking effectively this year, and we have moved from moving N20 million a month on telephones, to N4 billion a month, and the numbers are going up.

"Today we have huge transactions going on through Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), PoS, through internet banking and we will continue building. But we would try to improve as far as telecommunications, operations, network availability, consumer protection and financial literacy before we roll out to other parts of the country."

Sanusi also revealed that a draft framework for agency banking would be ready by middle of December, adding the final framework would be complete before the end of the year.

"The framework for agency banking is almost ready, it is just waiting to go to the Committee of Governors and the Board and we will issue an exposure draft. We are working on a number of things, for example, the number of agents, the use of the Nigerian Postal Service, the relationship between the banks and telecommunication firms. It should be out by middle of December and then we should finalise before the end of the year," he said.

Responding to question on his assessment of financial inclusion in the country, Sanusi said: "At the moment, given the numbers, there have been some improvements and some of this is due to increased confidence in the banking system and better marketing by microfinance institutions. But we do have a long way to go.

"There are issues of access to financial services, there is the issue of the economic environment, because obviously you have to earn something before you save, we also have to look at financial inclusion within the context of overall economic policy."

Continuing, he said: "But there are two things that are going to be critical going forward: the first is that we need to look very strongly at the nature and quality of government spending. If 70 per cent of Nigerians live in rural areas, we need to get more money into the rural areas and less of it into Abuja and the State capitals.

"The second thing is that the banks need to take certain risks. It is not enough to say that you (bank) are afraid of a sector and basically don't want to have any kind of experience. You need to innovate and look for new ways of lending without the regular forms of collateral. Take a small risk with some part of your portfolio and the experience is what will give them the confidence to increase their exposure in those areas."

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