By Providence Emmanuel
THE year 2017 started on a good note even though the nation witnessed economic pressure which led to high cost of products and services and harsh operating environment for businesses and organisations across every sector of the economy.
The Microfinance Bank, MfB, sub sector was not left out in the year, as it also struggled to surmount the challenges presented to it by the economic recession that overwhelmed the country. Early in the year, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, directed the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to implement the requirement for Bank Verification Number (BVN) to account holders in the MfBs to facilitate the federal government staff verification exercise.
Meanwhile, the CBN extended the BVN enrollment to December 31, 2017 instead of July 31, 2017 due to the various challenges encountered in the early stage of deployment of the joint CBN/NIBSS support to members of the National Association of Microfinance Banks, NAMB.
Director, Other Financial Institutions Supervision Department, Mrs. Tokunbo Martins, announced the extension, saying that all customers without BVN linked to their account would no longer be entitled to debit operations effective from January 1, 2018.
Also, the Development Bank of Nigeria, was established by the Federal Government, as a wholesale development finance institution to provide sustainable financing through eligible participating institutions, which will in turn lend to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises MSMEs for the development of that segment.
Three institutions, Fortis Microfinance Bank Plc, LAPO Microfinance Bank Limited and NPF Microfinance Bank Plc got the first set of loan disbursement of N5 billion each for on-lending to about 20,000 entrepreneurs operating in the MSMEs sector of the economy.
To enhance financial inclusion, the apex bank granted an approval-in-principle to Inlaks, a financial technology company, to operate as a super-agent in the nation’s financial services system.
Inlaks is a leading system integrator in Nigeria and Sub-saharan Africa. The aim is to ensure that informal workers in Nigeria have access to affordable financial services through its agent network which will address social challenges in key areas such as health insurance, credit accessibility, savings, wage payment, among others.
Managing Director/CEO, Inlaks, Mr. Femi Adeoti, said Inlaks would partner CBN to deploy a unified information technology platform for about 1000 Microfinance Banks in Nigeria. “The landmark project which is ongoing will be implemented under the auspices of the NAMB,” he said.