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Firm deepens financial inclusion through digital payment

One of Nigeria’s indigenous digital payment service providers, Xpress Payment Solutions Limited is vigorously driving and deepening financial inclusion taking financial services to the unbanked particularly the rural dwellers.

The Managing Director/CEO, Xpress Payment Solutions Limited, Oluwadare Owolabi, stated this at the 19th annual Digital PayExpo conference and exhibition in Lagos.

His presentation was titled, “Payment initiatives driving digital financial services innovation.”

He noted that until payment services were taken from major cities and towns in the country to the unbanked rural dwellers, financial inclusion drive target of the Central Bank of Nigeria, may not achieve the set objectives with many denied access to financial services and products thereby.

The three-day event brought together digital service providers and relevant stakeholders.

The theme of the event was, “Finclusion: Aligning expectations with the digital financial service business case”. The theme was built around key contextual subjects that influence the development of digital financial services.

“In driving or deepening digital payment services in the rural areas in the country, we have our licensed super agents that enabled us to recruit and deploy agents across the nation. So, we are focusing mainly on villages in unbanked areas, bringing people to bare.

“That is what Xpress Payment Solutions is doing. We are available in rural areas across the country and we are located in those villages. And this has facilitated the growth of the financially included,” the managing director said.

On threat posed by quack payment service providers, Owolabi suggested that the apex financial regulator in the country, central bank should set up a machinery through which it receives feedback on the activities of such and device means of arresting the situation.

He said, “The CBN should have a machinery to understand what is going on in the market. They should have machinery that drives report to them. They should have machinery to see what is happening outside of us. CBN is a regulator and should do more to cover every nook and cranny of the country.”

According to him, to upscale the financially excluded would require cooperation from the service providers and the regulators and pushing services to the unbanked locations before the country can achieve the desired set objectives.

Owolabi stated further, “There is a lot of work from all parties: from the country, Nigeria, from the regulator, CBN, from each party providing services. We all need to work together and collaborate to drive the financial inclusion in Nigeria either by technology, processes, people, training even the country pushing transaction to mobile devices, pushing transactions to agents, pushing transactions to other nook and crannies where there is no financial services today and let them use agents to drive that financial services. All parties need to work on it.”

Owolabi, who posited that access to financial services was a major challenge faced by third world countries like Nigeria, explained that digital payment services are impacting the country’s economy.

He added, “Transactions are been seen across board, funds that are being transferred are recorded on daily basis by Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System and we can see that things are moving but the money moving is still restricted to the rural areas. We’ve not seen in the unbanked, we’ve not seen a lot in the villages, we’ve not seen a lot in the North, we’ve not seen a lot there yet. Those are the ones we need to see.

“The people need to be financially included. It’s not only in Lagos. Until we take digital payment services to the nook and cranny, particularly the villages, we are not going to see much successes in what we do.”

In her address, the Managing Director, Intermac Consulting and market expert in digital financial services, Jacqueline Jumah, noted that transformative innovations in technology can drastically drive presence and scale when offering financial services, opening doors to the unbanked and underbanked populations.

“Financial inclusion, at its most basic level, starts with having an account, financial institution account or mobile wallet, but it doesn’t stop there, people can only fully benefit when there is regular usage. In recent times, we have witnessed incredible innovations in products, and initiatives to support the delivery of financial services, promoting the uptake and usage of products and services and showcasing the business case for financial inclusion,” she said.

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