By Akinwunmi King
The Electronic Payment Providers Association of Nigeria (EPPAN) has disclosed that the number of bank account holders in Nigeria constituting of both individuals and organisations has reached 76 million.
Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of E-PPAN, Mrs. Onajite Regha, who made the disclosure at a presentation at a mobile expo in Lagos, adjudged this figure very low when compared with the estimated population of 170 million people in the country.
Regha also stated that the uptake of mobile subscriptions had surpassed the number of bank accounts in the country, making telecoms a key sector for driving financial inclusion through mobile money in the country.
She pointed out that mobile subscriptions in the telecoms sector should be leveraged to make Nigeria a leading player in Africa’s mobile money market. Mobile money is the use of mobile phone and other mobile devices to send monetary value from one person to another.
According to Regha, official data from the telecoms regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), showed that from about 400,000 mobile subscriptions in 2001, the telecoms industry has grown tremendously, recording over 142.5 million as at last February.
“Since mobile phones have become widely acceptable and used in the country, the CBN encouraged the introduction of financial services through that channel, which is expected to foster financial inclusion of the unbanked populace, facilitate economic activities and deliver on employment and economic growth on the long-run”, she said.
She noted that the CBN has so far issued licences to about 20 mobile money operators, less than half of them are currently visible in the country to provide mobile money services to telecoms subscribers, who use the over 142 million mobile devices being used in the country.
Regha, insisted that mobile money or mobile payment, which is the person-to-person payment through the mobile phone or the use of mobile phones to conduct financial transactions, holds the key to driving financial inclusion in Nigeria.
“Though mobile money was first introduced in the Philippines in 2001, Kenya’s M-Pesa continues to be the most successful mobile money deployment globally and transformed Kenya’s entire economic system”, she said.
Source : Independent