The Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFInA) has raised the hopes about huge market opportunities for Financial Technology (Fintech) companies in Nigeria.At a forum it organised in Lagos, EFInA, a financial development organisation funded by DfID and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said to really explore the opportunities in underserved and unserved areas in the country, Fintech operations can be expanded to accommodate them.
EFInA, launched in 2009, disclosed that through its Innovation Fund, it targets the economically deprived population, saying the fund shares risks with Financial Service Providers (FSPs) by providing grant subsidies through the Technical Assistance Grant and the Innovation Grant to the amount of $250,000 and $2,000,000 respectively.
The focus areas include agent networks, electronic payment, financial inclusive products and services especially across Northern Nigeria, women and financial literacy projects.EFInA’s Board Chair, Segun Akerele said, that the “essence of the forum was to request information from FinTechs on how EFInA can stimulate innovation targeted at the financially excluded through its grants, advocacy, research and capacity building.”He addressed over 40 different Fintech companies, regulators and digital financial service consultants that attended the forum. Akerele also appealed to the forum to see the financially excluded as partners and an asset in our bid to boost economic growth and increase GDP.
Presenting a paper on “Potentials for Driving Financial Inclusion Uptake through Fintechs”, EFInA’s Programme Specialists, Payments, Folasade Agbejule, said the firm’s access to financials survey of 2016, which covered about 23,000 respondents across Nigeria, 41.6 per cent of adults are financially excluded even though they have access to mobile phones.
“Also, these adults do not have access to formal and informal financial services. The digital financial service system has a role to . in this situation to reach low-income earners and people in the rural areas,” Agbejule said.
Associate Principal at Mckinsey and Company, Topsy Kola Oyeneyin, during her presentation on “Opportunities in Digital Financial Inclusion”, stated that “there is huge potential for digital involvement in Nigeria’s financial services, but this can only be attained if the three required building blocks are put in place.“These building blocks are widespread digital infrastructure, dynamic financial services market and the development of products people prefer to existing alternatives.”
At the panel session, Segun Akerele, Tunde Kehinde; Co-Founder Lidya, Ngozi Dozie; Co-founder Paylater/OneFi, Jude Njugo; Beyond Credit’s chief executive and Nonny Merenu; Unilever Sustainability Manager, discussed issues relating to the current state of financial inclusion in Nigeria, the FinTech landscape, the role of the Central Bank of Nigeria in driving financial inclusion in Nigeria as well as the barriers and challenges of the low income population to access financial services.The EFInA Grants Manager identified the regulatory landscape, the availability of credible data as very important factors in the development of digital financial services.
The FinTechs that attended the forum generally agreed that there was a need for constant dialogue between all stakeholders so that the current obstacles to financial inclusion can be removed and the Fintechs can . an important role in the development of our economy and the promotion of financial inclusion in Nigeria.Some of the Fintechs that attended the forum include Flutterwave, Lidya, Paga, International Finance Corporation, Paylater, E-settlement, Sanwo, OyaPay, Spacpointe, Amplify, Afarapartners, Capricon Digi, Cassava, among others.