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Only 32.5 percent of Nigerians have bank accounts, says Unity Bank official

09 April 2014, 06:52

Abuja - The Managing Director of Unity Bank Plc, Henry Semenitari, on Tuesday in Abuja said only about 32.5 per cent of people living in the country had bank accounts.

Semenitari made the disclosure while making a presentation on “Financial Inclusion through Agency Banking” at a three-day Co-operatives Summit and Leadership Forum.”

“Many Nigerians are unbanked and financially excluded, but billions of Naira are circulating through the informal system without structured impact on the economy and development of the nation,” he said.

“A study by a group, Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access, showed that 39.7 per cent adult Nigerians are `financially excluded’, while 10.5 per cent adults were served by institutions other than banks.”

Semenitari said the financial inclusion strategy introduced in 2013 by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was aimed at ensuring access to financial services for unbanked and financially excluded Nigerians.

“The strategy is expected to also lead to economic growth and development, as well as wealth creation for everyone linked to the formal financial system,” he said.

The bank official said CBN had identified “Agency Banking” as one of the key tools to facilitate the achievements of financial inclusion strategy in the country.

“Agency banking is expected to provide services such as cash withdrawal and deposit, bill payments, payment of salaries, funds transfer and balance enquiry.”

“Several developing nations have used agency banking as a tool to deepen financial inclusion and reach the high percentage of unbanked citizens in their countries.”

“This has yielded significant results in terms of economic development and the improvement of financial inclusion,” Semenitari said.

He said that the concept of such banking was still developing in Nigeria, adding that CBN was encouraging Deposit Money Banks to implement agency banking.

The Unity Bank Plc managing director said this would help in reaching the unbanked and financially-excluded.

He, however, acknowledged that those who would operate agency banking in the country would encounter challenges.

Semenitari identified the challenges as financial illiteracy, security of the retail outlets, inadequate infrastructure, fraud, poor customer service and low level of profitability.

-    NAN

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