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CBN, NIBSS, telecom firms deepen financial inclusion with mCash

By The Citizen
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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) and telecoms companies (Telcos) are working to ensure that more people have access to financial services.

The trio, at the weekend, collaborated to unveil the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) payment solution, which is already being implemented by some banks to deepen financial inclusion.

Wema, Zenith, Fidelity, Diamond and Unity banks run the USSD platform while other banks are to sign up before the end of the year. Airtel, MTN, Etisalat and Glo are also on the project.

Speaking at the launch of mCash, Managing Director/ Chief executive officer NIBSS, Ade Shonubi said:  'With mCash, the whole intention is to broaden the opportunity for people who today use cash to find a convenient means of making payments. The CBN has been pushing the cashless initiative for a long time and we have seen significant gains but a lot of the people who have benefited so far have been the 27 million banking customers.'

He said mCash remains an innovative solution designed to facilitate low-value retail payments, drive payments by providing accessible electronic channels to a wider range of users and to further grow financial inclusion in the country. The technology, he added, leverages the mobile phone USSD technology which in recent times has become  the most accessible channel for processing financial and non-financial transactions.

'To achieve that, the banking industry and telecoms have come together to partner and find a way to deliver a service at a reasonable value point which is in terms of efficiency and price and addressing concerns of being able to attain that their transactions are made,' Shonubi said.

CBN Director, Banking and Payment, 'Dipo Fatokun said the product would help the CBN meets the Payment Systems Vision 2020 plan and promote financial inclusion.

Fatokun, who was represented by Principal Manager at the CBN Joe Ogbogu said: 'We endorse this because it would take our payment system to the next level. Nigeria is at the top pendulum of payment system in the whole world. And because of this, various countries come to understudy our payment system and this is one product I hope they would understudy in the near future.

'Another reason for this endorsement is that it is going to drive our financial inclusion. We have challenges of acceptance of Point of Sale (PoS) transactions because merchants don't get instant value for their services but with this product, merchants get instant value which is a big plus.'

He added: ' I am sure this product would drive financial inclusion to level the it is desired. We have projected that by 2020, Nigeria should be able to get inclusion level of 80 percent and I'm sure this is one of the initiatives that would drive that.'

Head Mobile Financial Services Etisalat, Seun Omotosho said: 'We at Etisalat are excited about this solution and we have heard about what is happening in East Africa with Mpesa. We believe that mCash is going to rival this. We are going in the direction of payment because we believe it is what will drive financial inclusion. This solution is simple and addresses what customers need.'