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ANMFIN To Host The 2nd Edition Of Nigeria’s Inclusive Finance Conference

By Ossai Ilome
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Despite the microfinance success, about half a billion forty million poor households remain without access to finance in Nigeria. Data from the Association of Non-Bank Microfinance Institutions of Nigeria’s (ANMFINs) Rural Business Plan implementation report across Nigeria and EFfinA’s Financial Exclusion survey confirms that numbers of persons financially excluded are even larger in rural areas.

Analysts are of the view that the main factors that prevent microfinance institutions (MFIs) from going to rural areas is the large geographical spread, low population density and small volume of transactions, which makes it more costly to operate there.

“MFIs face a challenge to explore creative approaches to cut down cost while serving poor people, especially in rural areas. As a the the Apex network of non-bank microfinance institutions in Nigeria, we are responsible for building the capacity of microfinance operators, improve business environment through advocacy & self-regulations and promote the use of technology for financial inclusion.

Taking cognizance of the emerging trends in the sub-sector, we have concluded plans to host our annual edition of the Nigeria’s Inclusive Finance Conference on 22nd of November, 2016 with the theme, Digital Finance: The Emerging Trends”, Hon. Hamid Giwa Afolabi, National President, ANMFIN said.

The Conference is expected to bring together microfinance practitioners and digital finance experts to examine alternative microfinance delivery systems for their merits. This is because information and communication technologies (ICT) have emerged as a powerful tool to reduce operating costs, making it viable for financial institutions to expand into rural and low-income areas. experts agree that traditional bank branches alone, do not seem to be the answer for reaching small rural depositors and borrowers.

According to the Executive Secretary/CEO of the microfinance network, Dr. Godbless Safugha “this is true as ICT innovations such as a personal computer connected to the internet, a mobile phone, an automated teller machine (ATM) or a point-of-sale (POS) device located at a retail or postal outlet, may be less expensive to establish than branches located in rural areas and more convenient for customers”.

“Unlike pure cash based transactions, ICT-based transactions can take place with less time or with no time required from a teller. Rather than hand over cash to a teller when making a deposit or loan repayment, a customer can use agent points for cash in and cash out, initiate transfers and pay for bills, customers also have the option to use their phones to make financial transactions. Thus, reducing the man hour spent commuting to and from the bank branch that are sometimes far away.

Since the transaction is electronic, from the institution’s perspective, it is less costly to process and less money is spent on physical infrastructure. It is this possibility of ICT solutions for expanding the rural finance frontier that has stimulated this years’ conference”, the Executive Secretary claimed.

The main outcome of the conference according to documents made available to ANMFINEWS correspondent, is to provide a platform for digital finance service providers to exhibit their products and services and allow the microfinance institutions to gain first-hand information of their services and make informed decision on the possible use of ICT solutions for expanding microfinance services to the rural areas.