Nigeria’s largest GSM operators: Glo, 9Mobile, Airtel & MTN Nigeria are to expand financial inclusion to 90 million Nigerians by 2020.
Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, made this known in Lagos on Thursday.
According to him, the operators came together recently to clearly articulate their commitment to deepening financial inclusion and providing Nigerians with access to a range of affordable financial services.
He said that the operators equally called for a level-playing field for mobile network operators to be allowed to participate fully in the Mobile Money industry.
Adebayo listed the commitment of the industry to include materially-improved financial inclusion rates and to deliver access to financial services to 90 million customers over the next 30 months.
He said that by the sixth month, the Telco’s planned to bring access to financial services to 15 million customers, serviced by 100,000 agents.
Adebayo said that by the 12th month, the operators would bring access to financial services to 35 million Nigerians serviced by 250,000 agents.
According to him, by the 24th month, we will bring access to financial services to 70 million Nigerians, serviced by 600,000 agents.
He added that by the 30th month deadline, the mobile network operators would be committed to bringing access to financial services to 90 million customers, also serviced by 600,000 agents.
Adebayo said that following the issuance of Nigeria’s first mobile money licences in 2009, the journey toward financial inclusion had been slow, as current financial exclusion level stood at over 40 per cent.
He said: “There is a significant gap to be covered in order to meet Nigeria’s target of 20 per cent financial exclusion by 2020.
“In Nigeria, Telco’s are excluded from accessing mobile money licences directly under current guidelines, while in most sub-saharan African markets where mobile money is successful, Telco’s are given a level-playing field.
“According to Mckinsey, as a direct result of increasing financial inclusion rates, Nigeria could realise as much as a 12.4 per cent boost in Gross Domestic Product.’’
He said that this would lead to creation of three million new jobs; $2 billion reduction in government leakages and $57 billion new credits for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises over a four-year period.
He said: “The Telco’s proposed intervention will not only give customers access to a variety of affordable financial products and services, but also deliver 1 million direct jobs in addition to other benefits identified by the McKinsey Report.’’
Adebayo noted that opening up the Digital Financial Services sector could be the basis for transformative change in the structure and sustainability of growth in the Nigerian economy.
He said: “We acknowledge the concrete commitments the industry has made toward delivering access to financial services today as well as the commitment to financial literacy which while vital, cannot happen in isolation of the Telco’s.
“The telecommunications industry recognises that with an issue as critical as financial inclusion, it is important to focus on sustainable solutions and this requires inclusivity and collaboration of varied solutions providers in order to achieve real results.
“The telecommunications industry has the capabilities, technology, infrastructure, distribution network and subscriber base that can quickly be leveraged to provide these solutions.
“According to the Nigerian Communications Commission, the industry has a reach of 86 per cent of the country, with 162.3 million customers (the single largest customer base of any industry in Nigeria).
“The industry players have combined presence in 773 local government areas across the country; further emphasising their ability to reach especially hard-to -reach areas of the country in a bid to deepen access to financial services.”
Adebayo said that there were 1 million agents already in place selling airtime across the country, creating a strong distribution network that could quickly be converted to established mobile money agent networks.
Yinka David-West, the Academic Director and Senior Fellow at Lagos Business School, who facilitated the meeting, said the country needed to work to increase the number of financially included persons.
David-West said that there was the need to also increase the quality of inclusion and access given.
She said that the work was essential in order to positively impact the economy and the quality of lives of Nigerians in any meaningful way.
David-West suggested access to a full suite of quality financial services, provided at affordable prices, in a convenient manner.