The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) have signed a memorandum of understanding to further facilitate the adoption of mobile money and grow the rate of financial inclusion in the country.
Umar Danbatta, the executive vice chairman of the NCC disclosed this Wednesday while meeting with Queen Maxima of the Netherlands the United Nations Special Advocate on financial inclusion.
The memorandum of understanding would specifically allow mobile operators launch special purpose vehicles to offer mobile money services as current guidelines prevent telcos from directly owning mobile money operations.
According to Danbatta, the National Financial Inclusion Strategy sets out milestones and targets to be met to reduce the percentage of financially excluded adult population in Nigeria to 20 percent by the year 2020, adding that it is evident from statistics that decisive steps need to be taken to address financial inclusion in Nigeria.
On his part, Godwin Emefiele, governor of the CBN, said at the event that the financial regulator was targeting a financial inclusion rate of 80 percent, up from current levels of 41 percent. According to him, the subscription rate for mobile telephony has had a greater success rate in terms of subscription and penetration.
He said the CBN would work in tandem with the NCC to ensure that those excluded from financial services took advantage of mobile communications
According to data from the Access to Financial Services in Nigeria 2016 Survey, 41.6 percent of the Nigerian adult population is financially excluded, with the financially excluded population growing from 36.9 million in 2014 to 40.1 million in 2016.
Queen Maxima pledged to lend her support to the laudable project and that it was essential that the NCC and CBN bring mobile money services closer to the doorstep of Nigerians.
A major implication of the move allowing telcos establish mobile money services is that it will give them access to more revenue, as well as data on consumer spending habits, which would enable them to create even more specific products.
However, mobile money operators that have been licensed by the CBN, may oppose the move as this could lead to heightened competition. A previous framework for telcos to carry out mobile money operations has not been effective. Commercial banks in the country could also push back at the move, as this would encroach into their space as they have invested greatly in USSD platforms.
By Tony Ademiluyi