The World Bank has advised Nigeria and other developing nations to continue to implement policies that will enhance financial inclusion in their countries.
Low-income countries benefit mostly from technological innovations such as mobile payments, mobile banking and borrower identification based on finger printing, the World Bank stressed.
The Bretton Woods institution, which stated this in a report titled: “Global Financial Development Report 2014: Financial Inclusion,” obtained at the weekend, noted that innovations makes financial services cheaper and easier to access for the poor, women, and rural residents, especially those living in remote, less populated regions without brick-and-mortar bank branches.
“Financial services are out of many people’s reach because market and government failures pushed the costs of these services to prohibitively high levels,” the World Bank Director of Research Asli Demirguc-Kunt, a co-author of the report said.
Demirguc-Kunt added: “Vulnerable populations benefit the most when policy and products address the regulatory and other hurdles to financial inclusion.”
More than 50 countries, including Nigeria have committed to explicit targets to increase financial inclusion. And last month, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim set targets towards universal financial access for all working-age adults by 2020.
Many countries have made progress in expanding account use among those underserved by traditional financial institutions. Some policies have proven to be especially effective, such as requiring banks to offer low-fee accounts, waiving onerous documentation requirements, and using electronic payments to deposit government assistance into bank accounts.
However, in Nigeria, as part of efforts to address the problem of low level of financial inclusion, the central bank, last year inaugurated a National Financial Inclusion Strategy.
The Director, Development Finance Department, CBN, Mr. Paul Eluhaiwe, revealed recently that the amount of Nigerians excluded from the banking system had declined by 14.3 per cent to 39.7 per cent in 2012, as against the 46.3 per cent it was in 2010.
Also, the Director, Banking and Payment System Department, CBN, Mr. Titus Oladipupo Fatokun, pointed out that there had been an explosion of different forms of remote access to financial services beyond the branches in recent times. These, Fatokun said were been provided through a variety of different channels, including mobile phones, automatic teller machines (ATMs), point-of-sale (PoS) devices and agent banking