British envoy lauds Lagos state govt. on cashless policy, financial inclusion

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By Busayo Onijala

Lagos, Nov. 11, 2020 Ben Llewellyn-Jones, British Deputy High Commissioner in Nigeria, on Wednesday lauded Lagos state government for its role in developing solutions to support broader financial inclusion nationwide.

The envoy made this known while delivering a keynote address at the second edition of the Lagos Fintech Week themed “Setting Agenda for Cashless Lagos”.

Naija247news reports that Lagos Fintech Week (LFW) is organised by Fintech 1000+, the largest Financial Technology group in Africa, comprising regulators, bank CEOs, government, investors, insurers, Fintech firms and the media.

The week long activities include distinct events that deliver exciting discussions, stimulating demos and insightful debates for start-ups, technology companies, investors, financial and research institutes as well as innovation professionals.

Llewellyn-Jones noted that the rate of financial access and inclusion was much higher in Lagos than the rest of the country, but more remained to be done.

Speaking on the benefits of a cashless system, he explained that electronic transactions could save time, increase business productivity, safety and tax revenue, reduce corruption and facilitate work against money laundering and terrorism.

“If there is a game changer for financial inclusion, but also cashless Lagos, it is mobile money.

“The new payment service banks will serve people who the traditional banks regard as too poor to be of interest and mobile money transfers are also suitable for small payments.

“Among our neighbours in West Africa, mobile money is gaining traction.

“In Burkina Faso, Cote D’Ivoire, Senegal and Ghana, the proportion of people with mobile money accounts ranges from 33 to 45 percent, in Kenya, more than 80 percent of the population has mobile money whereas it is only just starting in Nigeria,” he said.

He added that based on some recent modelling for UKAid, the proper roll out of mobile money could add about 46 million people to the Nigerian financial system, boost GDP by 12 percent and create 3 million jobs in Nigeria.

According to Llewellyn-Jones, EFInA, the UK financial inclusion entity in Nigeria, can support the regulator and provide examples of Know Your Client (KYC) for low-income earners, as well as provide best practice regulation for Fintechs.

“With some more reforms building on the exciting Payment Service Bank licence issuance, there are some real strides to be made towards not just a cashless Lagos but also a connected and cashless Nigeria,” he said.

The envoy said that the UK was pleased to see the issuance of the first Payment Service Bank licences officially launched in August, 2020, in Nigeria, adding that he hoped to see services starting soon in Lagos.

“The expectation is that Nigeria could catch up fast with the support of the regulator, which is a key participant needed to keep consumers and the financial system safe.

“We continue to encourage the Federal Government of Nigeria to lead the way with facilitating electronic payments for Government to consumer services.

“Also, for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to approve applications for Payment Service Bank licences, and to set up the “Know Your Customer” arrangements in ways that are easier for low-income Nigerians to access.

“Removing the caps on digital agent fees is also an important step to ensure that agents who are in remote areas can make money while ensuring that the needs of the underserved are met,” he said.

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