OLU OJO PHILIPS
Mr Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN] in his maiden press briefing after his reappointment as Governor of the CBN has promised that under his watch Nigeria would attain 95 per cent financial inclusion by 2024.
“Our ultimate objective is to ensure that 95 percent of eligible Nigerians have access to financial services by 2024,” he assured.
Emefiele said that over the next five years, through initiatives and policy measures such as the Shared Agent Network Facility (SANEF) and the payment service banks (PSBs), the apex bank intends to broaden access to financial services to individuals in underserved parts of the country.
He explained that the CBN would intensify its financial literacy and consumer protection programmes such that current and eligible bank customers are fully aware of the financial services being offered to them and the cost of utilizing these services, which will enable them to make well informed choices.
“Besides providing valuable information to bank customers, we are committed to developing and enforcing strong rules to protect consumers.
“Our banking supervisory and consumer protection department at the CBN will ensure that dispute resolution mechanism in financial institutions are not only efficient but also timely, in order to maintain the confidence of the Nigerian populace in the utilization of banking services,” he promised.
Access to Credit
According to Emefiele, beyond the CBN’s intervention programmes, the apex bank is also working to encourage banks and financial institutions to lend from their balance sheet in order to support the growth of critical sectors of the economy. These sectors include agriculture, MSMEs and the real estate.
He reiterated that greater emphasis would be on improving consumer spending and business investment by MSMEs.
“This is critical to ensure a sustainable double digit growth of the Nigerian economy”, he said.
He added that the MSMEs constitute over 90 percent of businesses in Nigeria. Through the national collateral registry, over N400 billion worth of movable assets have been registered by MSMEs in the registry.
“We intend to triple this number over the next three years. Our ultimate objective is to broaden the range of collaterals that MSMEs can provide to banks in order to obtain credit.
YOU MAY ALSO READ: Nigerian FinTech Association Appoints Executives
“This will help to improve access to credit for farmers and MSMEs and it will also support the growth of their respective businesses”, he emphasized.
In order to ease the constraint poor identification has on the availability of credit to prospective banking customers, Emefiele said the CBN will support an aggressive enrollment of prospective banking customers in the informal sector onto the BVN system.
He assured that the current enrollment of 38 million unique banking customers will be expanded to 100 million over the next five years.
Ongoing partnership with National Identity Management Commission [NIMC] will also enable the integration between the two databases.
This effort will improve the comfort level on banks in providing services to an expanded customer base.
It will also aid in the development of a credit profile for banking customers, which will assist in improving access to credit for credit worthy borrowers by banks.
While lamenting the poor penetration of consumer credit in the country, Emefiele disclosed that less than 10 percent of adult Nigerians who have bank accounts utilize financial products offered by the banks.
These products include credit cards, personal loans, mortgage loans, auto loans and consumer durable loans.
“Consumer credit is critical to the growth of our economy as it will help boost consumer spending accelerate improved investments by businesses, who seek to meet the demand of consumers.
“Improved consumer spending and investments by businesses will ultimately help to spur the growth of our economy and support our job creation efforts,” he explained.
To spur lending to consumers, he said, a lending framework will be announced by the CBN, under which large departmental stores, automobile companies, equipment leasing companies, in partnership with financial institutions, and the credit bureaus, will be able to provide credit facilities at reasonable interest rates to consumers. This will help consumer spending and aid the apex bank’s efforts at driving the growth of the economy.