Abuja — The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) assured Nigerians Wednesday that it would work aggressively towards increasing financial inclusion rate to 80 per cent, by cutting down the number of people excluded from the financial system to 20 per cent in the next three years (2020).
Although the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele noted that the target was very ambitious, he however disclosed that the bank had identified key strategies to cutting down the financial exclusion rate to 20 per cent by 2020, across the country.
Specifically, he said that the Bank would work with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on how best to take advantage of mobile communication to reach those that were financially excluded.
In his remarks while receiving the United Nations Secretary General Special Advocate) on inclusive Finance for Development, HRM Queen Maxima, the CBN Governor said Nigeria has moved from 46.3 per cent exclusion rate in 2010, to 41.6 per cent in 2016.
According to him, specific areas of focus identified which would be pursued aggressively include "prioritising intervention and creating awareness to ensure patronage , incorporating non-interest financial services into CBN intervention programmes."
Others are "mobilising banks that offer such products for greater outreach and impact; massive rolling out of agents networks and creating awareness to increase adoption, and adoption of digital financial services as simple, flexible and easy alternative channels for reaching remote areas and rural hinterlands."
Emefiele added that the National Financial Inclusion Strategy was being reviewed for greater effectiveness and impact, adding that stakeholders would be sufficiently mobilised to participate.
Queen Maxima was at the CBN as part of her working visit to Nigeria.
She was in the country five years ago during the launch of FSS2020.
Speaking on the visit, Emefiele said: "Your visit is indeed remarkable as it demonstrates your love both to our deer country and your commitment to improving access to finance especially for the lowly placed in our society and all societies.
"Following our assent to the Mayal declaration in September 2011, we launched the National Financial Inclusion Strategy in October 12,2012 in which your Majesty participated actively.
"Our target is to bridge 20 per cent exclusion rate by 2020 by which we are saying 80 per cent inclusion rate".
" Towards this , the bank introduced a number of initiatives, prominent include the agent banking framework, the Know your customers framework, the micro small and medium framework; enterprise borrower program , national collateral registry , credit bureau and credit scoring system and release of national financial literacy and consumer protection frame work and other similar. We have introduced other reforms".
While admitting that a lot of work still needed to be done between now and 2020 to meet the target set for exclusion, Emefiele said assured his guest that the CBN would not rest in its oars.
"I'm must confess we do have a lot of work to do , and I can assure you that we will focus aggressively on these and one area which I just read is need to work and propagate digital financial services as simple, flexible and easy alternative channels for reaching to our remote areas and rural hinterlands lands. Through this medium, we are thinking of working aggressively with the National Communication Commission (NCC) through the use of mobile telephone.
"The subscription rate in the mobile today is over 150 million people, and we believe that if we work well with NCC , it would help us reach the target that we ate really working towards"
"I'm optimistic that in no distant future, substantial progress would be made in our efforts to achieve the targeted 20 per cent exclusion rate by the year 2020", he said.
Responding, Queen Maxima commended the CBN for mileage recorded in financial exclusion.
She said: "I can't tell the pleasure I have to be back at CBN and to have a chance to speak with you on this very important issue of financial exclusion.
"Indeed I was here five years ago to launch national strategy so I know you have very ambitious targets. You have tried very hard to achieve your targets. We are more than prepared, willing to support Nigeria in this process with assistance, knowledge from abroad; our experiences, what had worked, what has not worked and also, with commitment to push private sector members move forward in this endeavour," she said.