Nigeria: Despite COVID-19, Banks Opened 35 Million Accounts in Five Months

Lagos — Bank accounts in Nigeria have risen by 35 million between January to May 30th, 2020, data hosted on the website of the Nigeria interbank Settlement system (NIBBS) has revealed.

A breakdown of the data indicates that the total number of banks was only 125 million as at January, 2020 but grew astronomically to 160 million at the end of May, which represents a growth of 78.1 percent.

The data revealed that about 16.6 million accounts were opened between April and May, at the depth of the COVID-19 lockdown. This is followed by 12.8 million new accounts between February and March. January to February only recorded 5.3 million new accounts.

According to the data, the number of active accounts also grew by 32.1 million in 5 months from 79.4 million active accounts in January to 111.5 million by the end of May.

The total number of active accounts grew the most between February and March by 14.8 million, followed by April and May, by another 14 million. This may not be unconnected with the lockdown which saw a greater dependence on alternative banking channels.

The number of active accounts for the last five months is far greater than the average of 74 million active accounts between January and December 2019.

Savings accounts grew by 33.8 million in the 5 months period, moving from 96 million in January to 130 million in May. The biggest increase was recorded in May, which saw a growth of 15.7 million savings accounts. The average number of savings accounts throughout 2019 is 89 million.

However, the data also revealed a negative growth in current account as it witnessed a drop of 108 thousand accounts between January and May. The total current account in January was 25.2 million, while it dropped to 25.1 million.

Within the lockdown period, the physical purchase of food and other basic items became difficult and inconvenient. E-commerce anchored on bank accounts became an alternative that provided Nigerians a mode of ordering groceries and other necessities.

The number of transactions performed using NIBSS instant payment (NIP) was over 135 million in March. This is a 12.5% increase from the 120 million transactions recorded in the previous month.

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