CBN Admits Failing to Reduce Nigeria’s Unbanked Population
By Dipo Olowookere
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has admitted failing to reduce the number of unbanked people in the country as it had projected, but emphasised that it would continue to deepen financial inclusion in rural areas, which mainly don’t have access to banking services.
The apex bank, which is in the forefront of financial inclusion in the country, said much more is needed to be done to achieve the 2020 target of reducing the number of unbanked Nigerians to 20 percent.
The Director of Banking & Payment Systems at the CBN, Mr Dipo Fatokun, said at the moment, Nigeria’s unbanked population stands at 37 percent.
“We have not done much with just less than two years to 2020. At the last count, we are just 37 percent. A lot of work needs to be done,” Mr Fatokun said at the third Annual Banking Security Summit organised by MAXUT Consulting in partnership with OneSpan, global data security company last Thursday in Lagos.
The central bank director recalled that in 2010 in Mexico, the CBN made a commitment to reduce the population of unbanked Nigerians to at least 20 percent by 2020.
“We made a commitment in Mexico then to reduce the number of unbanked to at least 20 per cent by 2020, then in 2010 we observed that over 46 per cent of bankable Nigerians didn’t have access to financial services.
“This was a major concern to the CBN and we made a commitment that in 10 years time, we would reduce the figure to far below 20 percent, Mr Fatokun, who was represented by Mr Musa Jimoh, CBN Deputy Director, Banking & Payment Systems Department, said at the event.
Mr Fatokun one of the things that kept people away from banks was charges.
Delivering a keynote address on ‘Preparing for Open Banking in Nigeria,’ Mr Fatokun said a survey conducted years ago showed that people were afraid to bring their monies to banks because of banking charges, and that complex experienced in opening of accounts contributed to the trend.
But he said the apex bank had to introduce several policies to promote financial inclusion in the country such as mobile money to enable banks provide banking services to the poor.
He also said the CBN had a review of bank charges to reduce with a view to reducing them as well as the introduction of super agents.
According to him, the apex bank also reviewed Know Your Customer guidelines to tone down the requirements for opening Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 bank accounts to promote financial inclusion.
He noted that no nation could progress or truly develop if majority of its population was under-banked or had no access to financial services.