Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), says the bank is working on a non-interest development finance to increase financial inclusion in the country.
The governor said this while delivering the keynote address at the 10th-anniversary conference of Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFInA) in Lagos on Tuesday.
Emefiele, who spoke to the conference theme, “the Business Case for Financial Inclusion”, said over 850,000 smallholder farmers have also been brought into the financial system via the Anchor Borrowers Programme of the CBN.
“As of October 2018, over 850,000 smallholder farmers have been brought into the financial system through the programme. Similarly, we have licenced 25 mobile money operators,” the governor said.
The governor, who was represented by Nwanisobi Osita, deputy director, Development Finance Department of the CBN said the bank had set up the framework for the establishment of Payment Service Banks.
“Also the recently launched the framework for the establishment of payment service banks to facilitate and enhance digital payments in collaboration with micro small and medium enterprises,” he said.
He added that the bank was already working on the implementation of the MSME development fund, which will bring more people into the financial banking fold.
“Already we are working towards the creation of a non-interest window for the development financing interventions,” Emefiele added.
“The interest-free window will assimilate a large section of the population excluded due to their aversion for interest and interest-based products, into the financial system.”
He said the CBN has set a 2020 target to achieve 80 percent financial inclusion throughout Nigeria, stating that the southwest region of the country had crossed that threshold in 2018, with 82 percent inclusion.
Emefiele said the bank is working with telecommunications companies to drive financial inclusion in the country, especially in the northeast and northwest, where the numbers are still below 40 percent.
The event was chaired by Sarah Alade, former deputy governor of the CBN, and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).