The Innovation Fund considers proposals from various sectors within and outside the financial services for the unbanked and under-banked. For the next few years into 2017, EFInA will focus on the following six strategic areas listed below. Grant proposals must address one or more of these areas:
EFInA seeks to support the development of pervasive agent networks for financial services in Nigeria. Agent Banking services refers to the delivery of financial services outside conventional bank branches, often using non-bank retail agents and relying on technologies such as card reading point-of-sales (PoS) terminals or mobile phones for real time transaction processing. Prospective projects seeking EFInA funding may incorporate Agent Banking services as a channel for reaching the low income segments in locations that are poorly served by conventional methods.
Electronic Payments Services
To enable widespread inclusive electronic payments, real time electronic payment instruments must be safe and cheap. E-payment instruments take a variety of forms and can be initiated from various channels: real time transfers initiated on mobile phones are likely to be a dominant form of retail payment for many payment categories in addition to P2P (e.g., P2B, P2G). This requires a robust payment infrastructure that is interoperable across channels to enable low value, high volume payments across banks and non-banking financial service providers. As a result, payment systems will be more trusted and widely used. EFInA considers mobile money to be a significant part of electronic payments.
Prospective projects seeking EFInA funding may incorporate electronic payment infrastructure and consumer access channels that facilitate formal, affordable, and reliable financial transactions between two or more entities in real time. This includes technology solutions, switching platforms, network connectivity, pricing to mention a few. All projects must incorporate consumer protection and financial literacy action plans.
Inclusive Products and Services
EFInA will consider project that seek to develop financial products (such as savings, credit, insurance, payment and pensions) that are specifically targeted to financially excluded segments.Â Non-interest finance is an example of such a product group which is a key strategic area for EFInA. Non-interest finance is an area of new product innovation targeted at the financially excluded segments who have ethical preferences.
EFInA will focus on products and services that address the needs of the unbanked and under-banked population in the largely excluded Northern Nigeria geopolitical zones. Prospective projects may include payment systems, agent networks and inclusive products and services to serve the target population.
Strong preferences will be given to prospective projects that include products, services, and/or processes that aim to eliminate the obstacles preventing access to financial services among low income women across the country. Projects should consider how financial products and services may support the expansion of economic assets of disadvantaged women and their households, while decreasing their dependences and vulnerability.
EFInA will strongly consider projects that raise awareness of the proposed financial product or service and increase financial literacy amongst the unbanked and under-banked. The project should also promote an active consumer protection plan.