According to the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS), which was introduced in October 2012, financial inclusion is achieved "when adults have easy access to a broad range of financial products designed according to their needs and provided at affordable costs.”
Its overall target is that by 2020 at least 80% of adults in Nigeria are financially included and at the minimum 70% use at least one formal financial product.
However, based on available data and evidence, Nigeria is not on track to meet any of its financial inclusion targets and with the fast approaching 2020 deadline, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently published proposals for the refresh of the NFIS that are aimed at rapidly closing the gap between actual performance and targets.
The refreshed NFIS will cover the period 2018 -2020. Its main attribute is the adoption of a more pragmatic principles-based approach as opposed to specifying targets by reference to financial products or channels.
Its strategic priorities are enabling the growth of digital financial services; expanding agency networks so that there are more financial access points nationwide; and creating an enabling environment for service delivery to the most excluded such as women, youths and enterprises.
Others are streamlining know-your-customer (KYC) procedures for opening and operating bank accounts and increasing the adoption of cashless channels for government-private (G2P) and private-government (P2G) payments.
Basically, the refreshed NFIS aims for a massive surge in the use of digital payments above all else at least up till 2020 with the expectation that this will subsequently lead to the uptake of other financial products such as credit, insurance and pensions.
The real test will be to what extent there is the political will to fully implement all the proposed modifications As we have argued in our position paper on the refresh, the measurement of financial inclusion must surely now cover youths and enterprises and financial education will be critical to closing financial knowledge and awareness gaps among the most excluded.