By Tope Alake
Nigeria’s central bank plans to license more payment providers in an effort to improve the country’s financial-inclusion rate to 80% by the end of next year from about 60%.
“The provision of licenses to several players will help support innovation and competition as all parties work to increase their customer base,” Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele said in a speech in Abuja on Friday. “Nigerians in underserved locations will have access to cost effective payment services, cash-in and cash-out facilities, and savings products.”
The measures come as lenders in Africa’s most populous country of almost 200 million people make a push into retail banking to ward off potential competition from mobile-network operators. Nigeria is still a laggard when it comes to the rest of the continent in offering mobile banking, awarding its first license in July.
The central bank has provided so-called shared-agent and payment-bank licenses to three companies in 2019, Emefiele said.
More Highlights From Speech:
Government spending is expected to boost Nigeria’s gross domestic product growth to 2.5% in the fourth quarter from 2.3% in the previous three months.
Inflation is expected to rise slightly to about 11.7% and then moderate thereafter, “supported by our efforts at improving domestic production of staple food items.”
The central bank has started an automated process to reduce the time lag needed to export non-oil products to 10 minutes instead of two weeks. This should help Nigeria’s non-oil export earnings to double to $4 billion by the end of 2020.