The Nigerian mobile operators under the umbrella of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, ALTON, appear to be in an ambitious move to expand financial inclusion to Ninety million Nigerians by the year 2020.
The commitment was made by Nigeria’s largest GSM operators including Glo, 9Mobile, Airtel and MTN Nigeria when they met last week in Lagos at the Lagos Business School where they clearly articulated their move to deepening financial inclusion and providing Nigerians with access to a range of affordable financial services.
This is even as the mobile operators called for level playing field for mobile network operators to be allowed to participate fully in the Mobile Money Industry. Following the issuance of Nigeria’s first mobile money licenses in 2009, ALTON believed that the journey towards financial inclusion has been slow. While the current financial exclusion levels stand at over 40%, ALTON noted that there was a significant gap to be covered in order to meet Nigeria’s target of 20% financial exclusion by 2020.
According to ALTON, In Nigeria, telco’s are excluded from accessing mobile money licenses directly under current guidelines, while in most sub-Saharan African markets where mobile money is successful, Telco’s are given a level playing field. For Yinka David-West, Academic Director and Senior Fellow at Lagos Business School who facilitated the meeting, “ Far beyond financial inclusion rates in Nigeria, we also have to examine how people currently considered to have access to financial services stack up when evaluated against the criteria for true financial inclusion, i.e. access to a full suite of quality financial services, provided at affordable prices, in a convenient manner.
“ When evaluated against this definition, it is clear that as a country, we have to work, not just to drastically increase the number of financially included persons, but also to increase the quality of inclusion and access we give, especially if we hope to positively impact the economy and the quality of the lives of Nigerians in any meaningful way.”
Our Commitments as an Industry: As the largest investors in telecoms in Nigeria, ALTON assured that they have come together to deliver a concrete commitment to Nigeria -a promise to materially improve financial inclusion rates and to deliver access to financial services to 90 million customers over the next 30 months with the following:
*By the 6th month, we commit to bringing access to financial services to 15million customers, serviced by 100,000 agents. *By the 12th month, we commit to bringing access to financial services to 35 million Nigerians Serviced by 250,000 agents. *By the 24th month, we commit to bringing access to financial services to 70 million Nigerians, serviced by 600,000 agents.
*By the 30th month deadline we have given ourselves, we commit to bringing access to financial services to 90 million customers, also serviced by 600,000 agents.
*We also commit to deepening financial literacy across the country through a financial Inclusion secretariat within the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON). Meanwhile, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman of ALTON was quoted as saying; “According to Mckinsey, as a direct result of increasing financial inclusion rates, Nigeria could realise as much as a 12.4% boost in GDP, the creation of 3 million new jobs, $2 billion reductions in government leakages and $57 billion in new credit for small and medium scale enterprises over a four-year period.
The Telco’s proposed intervention will not only give customers access to a variety of affordable financial products and services but also deliver 1,000,000 direct jobs in addition to the other benefits identified by the McKinsey report. Opening up the Digital Financial Services sector, according to ALTON could be the basis for transformative change in the structure and sustainability of growth in the Nigerian economy.