DFS plays an important role in improving financial inclusion and EFInA seeks to unlock this potential by working with key stakeholders, including the regulators in creating an enabling environment for development of the DFS ecosystem in Nigeria.
Payments are the life blood of an economic system. They enable people to buy goods, purchase water and electricity, and send money to friends, relatives, and business partners. They enable governments to collect taxes and disburse social welfare payments. And they enable suppliers to collect payments from buyers. Economic activity is impeded when these transactions are costly and inconvenient.
Electronic payments is one of EFInA’s strategic areas mainly because:
- Achieving formal inclusion at scale requires pervasive cheap electronic payments
- Reducing the role of cash generally results in much greater inclusion
- Electronic payments (or e-payments) take a variety of forms and can be initiated from various channels, including mobile money, internet banking, Point of Sale (PoS) transactions, card payments, etc.
Increased penetration of electronic payments services will result in reduced use of cash by providing more efficient transaction options and greater reach to the unbanked and underbanked masses because:
- Digitizing helps overcome the costs and physical barriers that have beset otherwise valuable financial inclusion efforts.
- Electronic or digital platforms offer the opportunity to rapidly scale up access to financial services using mobile phones, retail point of sales, and other broadly available access points, when supported by an appropriate financial consumer protection framework
- Electronic payments can promote economic empowerment by facilitating greater account ownership and asset accumulation and increasing women’s economic participation
Agent Networks is one of EFInA’s strategic areas which aim to support the development of pervasive and sustainable agent networks for financial services in Nigeria. Catalytic action to succeed in taking financially inclusive products to scale in Nigeria primarily requires the development of agent networks on a national basis so that account registration, cash in, cash out and other electronic payments are possible. The National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) identified Agent Networks as one of the important channels required to achieve the Financial Inclusion target. Going by the shift from physical bank branches to branchless banking globally, the revised NFIS strategy considers increasing the Agent target from 62 to 476 Agents per 100,000 adults by 2020. It is estimated that at least 500,000 Agents should be available to serve about 105 million adult population in Nigeria by the year 2020.
EFInA will use all its tools (research, funding innovation, advocacy and capacity building) to promote the spread of agent networks into areas which would not otherwise be served, including North East and North West Nigeria.