Financial experts at the ongoing Future Banking Tech West Africa Conference have called for an enabling environment and policies for fintech to thrive.
The Future Banking Technology conference was organised to address the full value chain of West Africa’s banking and financial sector to achieve more financial inclusion and sustainable growth, NAN reports.
The conference had the theme: ”Innovation in Regulation – Overcoming Gaps in Rural Banking Strategies”.
According to Steven Ambore, Head Digital Financial Services, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), fintech globally bridges financial inclusion gap.
He said that the CBN recognised the importance of digital financial services and had strategised to ensure fintech’s adoption by the banking industry.
“To make any progress, we need to focus on creating the enabling environment for fintech to thrive, and CBN has instituted strategies toward that.
“There is a roadmap for that: introduction of a tradition licensing, trying to understand what fintech does and its problems, holding round table with stakeholders and others,” he said.
Ambore said that women and the youth were the most financially excluded, adding that the CBN was working toward bridging the gap.
He called on the financial sector to make financial services more accessible and affordable as well as ensure it would meet specific needs.
Mr Benjamin Tordah-Klu, Principal Economics Officer, Ministry of Finance, Ghana, said that a proper regulatory framework would be needed for fintech to thrive.
According to him, a lot is being done in the fintech space, especially in the area of payment, urging their adoption.
Mr Damola Atanda, Head, Financial Literacy Office, Consumer Protection Department, CBN, said that apart from an enabling environment, financial literacy was of essence.
According to him, we have technology, but the problem is what we do with the technology. We have to make it impact on the people.
“Forty million excluded Nigerians in rural areas have been living their lives well without technology; introducing financial technology to them will be strange because they will be wondering its use.
“How to get them to understand banking solutions is where financial literacy comes in, and they should be made to understand the enormous responsibilities that come with it,” he said.
He advised that the CBN should work with the National Youth Service Corp to enlist corp members to educate people in rural areas on the benefits of digital services.
Atanda listed other activities of CBN for boosting financial inclusion to include development of a portal to standardise financial literacy and putting together a consumer protection framework.
Earlier, Dr Evans Woherem, Founder and Chairman, Digital Africa Global Consult Ltd. and Compumetrics Solutions, said that financial inclusion and fintech were apt.
According to him, financial inclusion is important because of the need to ensure that the generality of people, especially from ages 18, become users of financial institution.
“It is so unfortunate that these are financially excluded; there is the need to ensure that things are done to include them.
“Fintech is something that we also need to pay more attention to, as it is an exponential technology that will disrupt the banking system.
“The banking system has come a long way – from the long queue banking to the realtime one, but this is not enough; we need to embrace fintech in the banking system,” he said.
He said there was the need for West Africans to catch up on technology adoption, adding that the conference provided an opportunity for experts to come up with decisions that would help the sector to move forward.