Players in Nigeria’s micro finance sector must leverage on digital technology to deepen financial inclusion

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Stakeholders at the recently held 2019 Accion Microfinance Bank Seminar on Financial Inclusion emphasized the need for Microfinance banks to leverage digital technology to increase their lending activities, deepen financial inclusion and expand micro, small and medium -scale sector businesses.

The event themed “Re-Emerging Microfinance Banks: Digital Reality” brought together regulators, members of the academia, technology specialists, financial market players and representatives of government agencies.

In an opening remark, the Chairman of Accion Microfinance Bank, Mr. Patrick Akinwuntan, noted that the seminar was part of the process of ensuring that Nigerians have access to finance, empowerment and autonomy.

He said that it was time for Microfinance Banks to build collaboration and scale up their businesses in the country.

According to him, Digitization was the way forward for MFBs to deepen financial inclusion across the various parts of the country.

Akinwuntan was of the view that Microfinance Banks should explore leveraging shared digital platforms, to increase financial access by Nigerians.

He called on MFBs to go beyond the regular lending service by providing advisory services to micro, small and medium enterprises, MSMEs.

Dr. Andrew Nevin, the Chief Economist for Price Water House Coopers, PwC Nigeria, believed that a large Microfinance banking sector was critical to Nigeria’s socio-economic development.

Nevin also agreed that digital technology would be a key driver of Microfinance services, enabling MFBs to achieve wider coverage.

He advised Microfinance banks in Nigeria to adopt Blockchain technology, to create value in the financial services space.

Keynote speaker and Academic Director, Lagos Business School, Professor Olayinka David-West, observed that the pace of digital transformation globally, require that more Nigerians become empowered to use technology effectively in running their businesses.

She said organizations would have to redesign their operations by going beyond attracting and retaining skills, to building competencies.

The LBS lecturer said that with the rate of data explosion, there is a need for countries like Nigeria to entrench proper governance mechanisms, covering the safety of people’s records and details, which dovetails into the need for a robust digital security framework.

Prof. David-West also outlined the three economic areas that have emanated from the digital revolution to include;

The on-demand Economy

The sharing economy and

The circular economy

The seminar featured a two-panel session that discussed “Collaboration within the emerging system of Microfinance banks” and “How Microfinance Banks can attract, groom and retain digital talent”.

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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