CBN to partner satellite system firms to boost financial inclusion

By The Citizen

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is to partner satellite system companies with the aim of enhancing the implementation of financial inclusion policy in Nigeria.

The Governor of the apex bank, Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who disclosed this at a meeting with a World Economic Forum Group in Abuja on Tuesday.

The focus of the meeting was “Promoting Global Financial Inclusion: Overcoming Key Barriers through Public-Private Collaboration.''

Sanusi identified lack of infrastructure as a major challenge to the implementation of the policy.

He said that the least expensive way of deploying products was technology, but said that the low level of internet penetration around the country remained a problem.

He also said that excessive reliance on telephone companies in the country had its problems 'because in this country, telecommunication companies make a lot of money from Small Message Service (SMS)'.

'But, the incentives to invest in order to have a bandwidth are limited unless it has additional commercial values.

“So, we have to figure out something and for example, one of the things we have figured out is to see if we can use some of the satellite companies to drop internet across the country'.

According to him, the idea is to have internet services in each of the 774 local government headquarters in the country and to create hot spots.

The hot spots, he said, would help to create internet cafe, mobile agents, Point of Sales (POS) operations, Automated Teller Machines (ATM) operation, among others.

The apex bank governor said that financial inclusion would not be achieved without strong financial literacy and education to help people to take decisions on personal financial issues.

On efforts of the bank to ensure financial inclusion through Cashless policy, he said that there had been continuous progress with the policy.

“The simple example is on the POS; we started with 11,000 terminals in the entire Lagos area with less than 6,000 active POS terminals and were doing transactions of N5 million to N10 million per day.

“Today, we have got more than 150 thousand POS terminals in Lagos; about 20 per cent of them are active  and we are doing between  N1billion and N2.5 billion on POS transactions daily,'' he said

Sanusi said that there had been general reduction in cash transactions in the country and that banks would strive to harmonise the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) policy to capture persons that were excluded in the banking system.

“A major bottleneck in the phase of financial inclusion is the identification of customers with a unique ID; I don't know what it is in other countries, but here it is serious,'' he said.

According to him, without proper identification, there will be a limit to the amount of money that can be given to a customer for doing business.

He said that the CBN would, on February 14, 2014, officially launch the second phase of the biometric project, adding that the contract had been awarded and that work on it was ongoing.

He said that the biometric project was to ensure that every customer of a bank, a micro finance company or any other financial system, was captured on a central data-base.

'Once a customer has been captured and the finger prints taken, he will need no form of identity to collect or to pay cash anywhere in the country,' Sanusi said.