22 June 2021
Kick-off Meeting for Central Bank of Nigeria National FinTech Strategy
Mrs. Aishah Ahmad, Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, distinguished participants ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon! It is with great pleasure that I greet you all and welcome you to this pivotal event with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). While we would have loved to convene with you all in person, experiencing the vibrant and upbeat atmosphere synonymous with the Nigerian society, we do seek solace in the level of warmth extended to us even in a virtual meeting.
The successes recorded over the past decade and well into the future by the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), a member-owned and driven network, is indeed positively correlated to the sum of each member’s individual contributions and success, as they move the needle forward in the attainment of their financial inclusion goals. The CBN, a principal member of the alliance since 2010, personifying the ideals of innovation, capability, peer learning and knowledge exchange, is a key contributor to strengthening the AFI network and we acknowledge and appreciate your steadfast commitment.
Although we recognize the global health-crisis presented some shocks that many could not have forecasted in the past year, we are reminded at every turn, the resilience present in humanity’s ability and capability to innovate, birth creative ideas and succeed even in the most difficult circumstance. In this light, the CBN has demonstrated great aptitude for triumph as reflected in the recent Access to Financial Services in Nigeria 2020 survey results by EFInA.
Dear Deputy Governor – I would like to congratulate you, the Central Bank of Nigeria, and stakeholders on achieving this feat and moving forward on your financial inclusion targets over the past two years. It is indeed worth noting, given the uncertain of the past months, that an additional 5.2 million adults, up from 48.4 million to 53.6 million representing 50.5 percent of the adult population, are formally included in the financial system by 2020.
It is also reassuring to see that the recorded financial inclusion growth between 2018 to 2020 are accelerated by digital financial services, with digital payment and banking agents recording double digits growth rate of 13% and 16% respectively, while remittance at 3% and access to savings accounts at 6% are also driving this welcomed growth.
While the CBN have been proactive in ensuring an enabling regulatory environment is established through several policy interventions covering shared agent network, tiered-KYC, open banking, financial literacy and education, regulatory sandbox, national QR standardization, MSME interventions and credit enhancement programs and much more, the impressive rise of digital financial services means that the Central Bank and other key stakeholders have much more to do to protect the customer, close the gender gap, build resilience and preserve the integrity of financial services.
In 2018, an overwhelming majority of the AFI network emphasized fintech as a priority and possible catalyst to accelerate financial inclusion. This culminated in the unanimous adoption and endorsement of the Sochi Accord on Fintech for Financial Inclusion, at the annual Global Policy Forum (GPF) in Sochi, Russia.
The Sochi Accord encourages the network to recognise the potential and leverage FinTech to advance financial inclusion by adopting and continuously adapting innovation and technology-led financial services, to advance financial inclusion in their jurisdictions.
Therefore, aligned with AFI’s member-driven and bottom-up approach, it is very heartening to support the CBN in the development of its National FinTech Strategy. Being one of the first financial regulators in the world on this pathway, we are optimistic this high-level strategic document would be a powerful tool to help fulfil the aspiration of an inclusive, resilient, equitable and digital financial economy.
As we officially kick-off this journey, it is evident that a collective and collaborative approach with all stakeholders in the design, development, and implementation of the national fintech strategy will deliver the results we seek and propel digital financial inclusion onwards and upwards in Nigeria.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I encourage all to apply a “strong relevance to financial inclusion” filter as we consider ways to harness fintech and innovation. As we step out of our ideation stages, we should take forward solutions, choices and decisions that are proven by peers in the network, fit for purpose, adapted and relevant to our sovereign context, and designed to address present issues around the access, usage and quality of financial services, financial health of vulnerable groups, yet supporting enhanced supervision, consumer protection and market conduct.
I would also encourage the CBN, to actively leverage AFIs various services such as working groups, regional initiatives, capacity building and peer learning exchanges and in-county implementation mechanisms, throughout the development of the strategy and in its journey of advancing financial inclusion.
Finally, allow me to conclude by reiterating that this kick-off event should be a starting point in taking the ideals of the alliance forward, and it should provide a solid foundation for stronger collaboration, peer learning and knowledge exchange between regulators, market actors and other stakeholders, ensuring readiness to take forward and implement the National Fintech Strategy and achieving the CBN’s Maya Declaration Commitments.