Fintech Poised to Propel Nigeria’s Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction

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L-R: Dr. Agada Apochi, Group MD/CEO, Unified Payment Services Limited; Mrs. Adekunbi Ademiluyi, MD/CEO, HumanManager Limited; Dr. Umaru Kwairanga, Group Chairman, Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX); Prince Cookey, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, Business Journal Media Group and Mrs. Joy Utubor of Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC Nigeria) at the maiden Nigeria Fintech & Financial Inclusion Roundtable 2024 in Lagos.

 

The need to leverage on financial technology (Fintech) to promote financial inclusion to enhance the well-being of Nigerians and ensure sustainable economic growth took the centre-stage at the maiden Nigeria Fintech & Financial Inclusion Roundtable 2024 organised by Business Journal Media Group in Lagos.

Experts at the event with the theme, the ‘Role of Fintech & Financial Inclusion in Citizen Empowerment and Economic Growth’ stated that proper leverage of fintech will enhance the economy of the nation and take Nigerians out of poverty.

Delivering the keynote speech at the event, Dr. Agada Apochi, Group Managing Director/CEO, Unified Payment Services Limited, stated that given the large number of Nigerians using mobile phones, liberating Nigeria out of poverty by leveraging fintech is achievable.

“There are many more Nigerians having telephones than those having bank accounts. How can we leverage on the power of financial technology to deliver financial services for them so that they can be included- so that they will be grow out of poverty?

Economic growth and financial inclusion are closely related. You cannot be financially included if you are not economically included. I know we cannot only achieve economic growth but we will not lift millions of Nigerians that are in poverty but we are going to include them.”, he assured.

Apochi, who stated that fintech has changed the way things are done in the past, pointed out that with fintech, transactions are done much easier, faster and seamlessly. He stated that Nigeria could achieve sustainable economic development only if it can take the issue of identity seriously. He frowned at the use of different names by a particular individual in his or her bank accounts, insisting that it does not encourage the move to get more Nigerians included financially.

Contributing, Mrs. Adekunbi Ademiluyi, the Managing Director/CEO, HumanManager Limited, opined that financial inclusion starts with identity, adding that when an identity of an individual is known, then one can open an account with the person.

She noted that Nigeria started well with financial inclusion, though, she observed that it has not yet gotten to where it should be, but pointed out that going by the way the fintech companies are working to ensure that every Nigerian is included, Nigeria will get there.

“We have started well in Nigeria. We can’t compare ourselves with other countries but we are getting there. There are companies that are doing a lot. The fintechs are going to places you and I could not reach before. Even the banks before were trying to compete with the fintechs but they have understood that there is no need of competing with fintechs, rather, they should sign an agreement and ensure that fintechs go out to do their job of going out to gather individuals and ensure they open accounts”, she said.

In his opening remarks as Chairman of the occasion, Dr. Umaru Kwairanga, the Group Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX), assured that by leveraging cutting-edge technologies like mobile platforms, big data analytics and distributed ledger systems, fintech has the power to democratise finance, breaking down barriers and extending access to financial services to the underserved and unbanked.

He stated that NGX Group is strategically focused on leveraging fintech success in the capital market, adding that it recognised the potential of fintech in boosting retail investor participation, which is aimed at ensuring that the average Nigerian benefits from the myriad of opportunities available for wealth creation in the capital market.

According to him, to enhance access to the market for retail investors, the NGX launched the USSD code *5474# in partnership with leading telcos, which has gathered commendations from stakeholders. Dialing the code, according to him, enables investors to access stock prices, daily gainers and losers and even initiates the process of opening a trading account.

“We are also collaborating with technology companies and partners to develop a state-of-the-art platform to support digital public offerings. Our track record in this area is commendable, as we saw over 150,000 new retail investors participate in the capital market during the MTN public offering in 2021. The NGX Group is also working closely with regulators and the government on bringing new products to the market, such as tokenized assets with blockchain technology and depository receipts”, he assured.

Speaking on concerns consumers have about fintech, Dr. Bode Oguntoke, the Group Head of Audit, FBN Holdings Plc, said that consumers are often not comfortable with the fact that there is no physical location where they can go for complaints or concerns about their accounts.

Some consumers he said, can’t leave their money in these fintechs because they fear they might lose it. Proffering solutions, he said there is need to truly empower the populace and ensure there should be full disclosure and transparency in charges.

He insisted that there should be a clear breakdown of all fees, adding that terms and conditions should be in plain language without any technical jargon.

Oguntoke added that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should encourage uniformity in charges and provide offline channels to obtain further information if necessary. According to him, information should be timely, orderly, enhance transparency and should be understandable.

“Awareness should be created on fraud, pointing out that consumers should be informed of steps to take when they get a fraudulent call or compromise their information among others.”

Earlier in his welcome address, Prince Cookey, the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Business Journal Media Group described the Roundtable as an opportunity to further understand the concept of fintech and financial inclusion in the Nigerian financial services industry.

Cookey added that another key objective of the Roundtable is to understand the nexus between banks and fintechs, examine the growth of fintechs in Nigeria in the past 10 years, proffer solutions to their operational challenges and project the future of fintechs in the country.

He promised that the Roundtable would be an annual event going forward.

 

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