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Experts to brainstorm on financial inclusion initiative at Oriental News summit

By EDU ABADE, Business Editor

Major stakeholders in Nigeria’s financial sector will brainstorm in a robust roundtable on government’s key policy, which centres on inclusive financial system and will cover all segments of the society.

The experts, who are drawn from key private sector organisations and regulatory agencies, would meet at the inaugural conference on Financial Inclusion being hosted by STANMEG Communications, publishers of Oriental News Nigeria.

Commissioner for Insurance, Sunday Thomas, who had earlier confirmed participation of the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), also endorsed the theme of the conference, an initiative he described as a major policy drive NAICOM is passionate about.’

Having endorsed the conference, NAICOM confirmed that it will join other key stakeholders from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the National Communications Commission (NCC) and First Bank Plc as part of discussants during the discussion.

A statement issued by the organisers revealed that the conference is being organised given that over the last couple of years, the Federal Government and stakeholders in the financial sector have had to deal with expanding financial services to a large community of underserved populations and dealing with resilience challenges engendered by the confluence of events that have taken place.

“They have had to cope with spiralling financial services prices, restricted coverage and dwindling capacity and limits in key lines such low internet knowledge of certain segments of the society like market men and women, artisans and some physically challenged persons.

“Financial services now going digital, dearth of knowledge and rising levels of data and associated costs of telecom services have brought about questions on the effectiveness of the initiative and interruption coverage when combined with the supply chain crunch.

“Most underserved groups are demanding cost reductions and our challenging environment peculiarity is part of why the conference is being organised to allow stakeholders take a collective view on how to create a suitable path to advance the initiative,” the statement reads.

STANMEG Communications noted that using rigorous research tools will bridge the huge gap in the financial services system with the exclusion of some members of other social strata.

Since 2005, the Nigerian financial services sector has witnessed increasing activities by the government and regulatory authorities aimed at deliberately promoting policies geared towards expanding financial inclusion.

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been championing the encouragement and supporting products specifically targeted at the low income and financially excluded, while the government has focused more on interventionist financing arrangements, as well as building institutions and frameworks that promote financial inclusion.

“Financial exclusion has significant outcomes for the real sector as lack of access to credit can be a disincentive to entrepreneurship, investment and economic growth. It also has assumed greater level of importance in recent times due to its perceived importance as a major driver of economic growth.

“Giving access to the hundreds of millions of people who are presently excluded from financial services will provide the possibilities for the creation of a large depository of savings, investable funds, investment and therefore global wealth generation,” the statement added.

The organisers of the conference pointed out that access to financial services that are well suited for low-income earners would promote enormous capital accumulation, creation of credit and boom in investments.

“The low-income earners constitute the largest proportion of the population and so control enormous chunk of idle funds in the economy, although being held in small amounts in the hands of each of the several million members of this group. Harnessing and accumulating these resources provides a huge source of cheap long-term investable capital.

“One of our findings is that all efforts are currently challenged on how to ensure that poor rural dwellers are carried along considering the lack of financial sophistication among this segment of the society due to low level of financial literacy.

“It is on this that we are organising the conference as advocacy measure by bringing experts, policymakers and other Key agencies of government in the vanguard of closing the seeming gap to proffer solution to the challenges mitigating the initiative,” it further reads.

The conference will also help to advance inclusive financial systems for identified groups, which include community-based people, artisans, low-income groups, market men and women, as well as persons with disabilities and displaced persons, who undertake various vocations.

The conference with the theme: Engaging With Critical Grassroots Groups To Develop Effective Financial Inclusion Initiative and sub-theme: Identifying Key Action Areas For Financial Inclusion Strategy is scheduled to hold on June 16, 2022, in Lagos.

Chairman, Bank Customers Association of Nigeria (BCAN), Dr Uju Ogubunka, will chair the conference, while Managing Director of APT Securities and Funds Limited, Mallam Garba Kurfi, will be guest speaker.

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