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Mobile operators warm up for financial inclusion, targets 90m - ITREALMS

ITREALMS
The Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in Nigeria under the aegis of the Association of a Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria, ALTON, are warming up to mobilize for financial inclusion, targeting some 90m subscribers within 30 months as far as there is a level playing ground, reports ITREALMS.

Nigeria, ITREALMS reports had in 2009 witnessed its first mobile money licensee and currently has over 22 mobile money operators as at the time of this report, despite what industry observers termed slow uptake in the bid to achieve Nigeria’s target of 20 per cent financial exclusion in less than two years, that is by 2020, just as  telcos currently are excluded from accessing mobile money licences, which lacks the enabling environment for all. 

Arising from a session at the Pan African University under the Lagos Business School, AlTON insisted that it has the capacity to soar up the mobile financial inclusion to 90 million given the level playing ground for all players.

Speaking at the session facilitated by the Academic Director and Senior Fellow at Lagos Business School, Yinka David-West, noted that far beyond financial inclusion rates in Nigeria, they have to examine how people currently access to financial services stack up when evaluated against the criteria for true financial inclusion, that is, access to a full suite of quality financial services, provided at affordable prices, in a convenient manner.

“When evaluated against this definition, it is clear that as a country, we have to work, not just to drastically increase the number of financially included persons, but also to increase the quality of inclusion and access we give, especially if we hope to positively impact the economy and the quality of the lives of Nigerians in any meaningful way.”

The telecommunications industry recognises that with an issue as critical as financial inclusion, it is important to focus on sustainable solutions. This requires inclusivity and collaboration of varied solutions providers in order to achieve real results.

The telecommunications industry has the capabilities, technology, infrastructure, distribution network and subscriber base that can quickly be leveraged to provide these solutions.

According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry has a reach of 86 per cent of the country, with 162.3 million customers (the single largest customer base of any industry in Nigeria).

The industry players have a combined presence in 773 local government areas across the country further emphasising their ability to reach especially hard to reach areas of the country in a bid to deepen access to financial services.

They also have 1,000,000 unique agents already in place selling airtime across the country, creating a strong distribution network that can quickly be converted to established mobile money agent networks.

According to ALTON chairman, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, pointed out that as the largest investors in telecoms in Nigeria, they have come together to deliver a concrete commitment to Nigeria – a promise to materially improve financial inclusion rates and to deliver access to financial services to 90 million customers over the next 30 months:
  1. By the 6th month, we commit to bringing access to financial services to 15 million customers, serviced by 100,000 agents.
  2. By the 12th month, we commit to bringing access to financial services to 35 million Nigerians serviced by 250,000 agents.
  3. By the 24th month, we commit to bringing access to financial services to 70 million Nigerians, serviced by 600,000 agents.
  4. By the 30th month deadline we have given ourselves, we commit to bringing access to financial services to 90 million customers, also serviced by 600,000 agents.
  5. We also commit to deepening financial literacy across the country through a financial inclusion secretariat within the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).
"According to Mckinsey, as a direct result of increasing financial inclusion rates, Nigeria could realise as much as a 12.4% boost in GDP, the creation of 3 million new jobs, $2 billion reduction in government leakages and $57 billion in new credit for small and medium scale enterprises over a four-year period," he said.

They further proposed the intervention will give customers access to a variety of affordable financial products and services, in addition to delivering 1,000,000 direct jobs in addition to the other benefits identified by the McKinsey report.

Aside opening up the Digital Financial Services sector, he said this could  be the basis for transformative change in the structure and sustainability of growth in the Nigerian economy.

“We acknowledge the concrete commitments the industry has made towards delivering access to financial services today as well as their commitment to financial literacy which while vital, cannot happen in isolation of the telcos, Adebayo said, stressing that this integrated approach, if allowed to, will deliver long term solutions and tangible impact,” he submitted.

Remmy Nweke/ED, Ops

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