Nigeria arguably has the highest number of unbanked and underserved population compared to other countries across the globe, the acting Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms Mary Uduk has said.
She spoke in Lagos recently where she gave the keynote address at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) Data Workshop 2018.
Citing a recent data by the World Bank in its Global Findex Database released during the Spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington DC, Uduk said about 2 billion individuals and 200 million businesses remain excluded from the financial system across the globe.
According to the report, only 40 percent of Nigerian adults have bank accounts, noting that Nigeria and six other countries are home to nearly half of the 2 billion people who do not have bank accounts.
“Globally, about 2 billion adults remain unbanked—without an account at a financial institution or through a mobile money provider. Indeed, nearly half live in just seven developing economies: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, and Pakistan.”
“The gap between men and women in developing economies remains unchanged since 2011, at 9 percentage points.”
The National Population Commission (NPC) pegs Nigeria’s estimated population at 198 million, the seventh largest in the world.
The Bretton Wood institution said most people in sub-Saharan African countries save for a business in contrast to adults in high-income economies who save for old age.
‘’Nearly half of adults in high-income economies reported saving for old age. In developing economies only 16 percent did. Saving for a business is more common in many Sub-Saharan African economies— reported by 29 percent or more of adults in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria, for example,” the report read.
According to the SEC boss, ‘’what is also worthy of note is that financial exclusion is a universal issue so it’s not just a Nigerian problem alone. In the European Union alone, 58 million people do not have access to a basic bank account. In the US, 7% of households are totally unbanked and that is about 16 million adults.’’
Thankfully, she said SEC along with the CBN and other sister agencies have since developed a national financial strategy aimed at reducing adult exclusion from financial services to 30% by 2020.
‘’Financial inclusion is distinctively moving up the reform agenda both in individual countries and globally. Today, more than 60 governments across the world have set financial inclusion as a formal target and squarely as a key objective. It is also part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Also the World Bank has set a goal of achieving universal access to financial services by 2020. As a country we are also working to achieve this set target of universal; access by 2020,’’ she maintained.
The Global Findex database is the world’s most comprehensive data set on how adults save, borrow, make payments, and manage risk. Launched with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the database has been published every three years since 2011.
The data are collected in partnership with Gallup, Inc., through nationally representative surveys of more than 150,000 adults in over 140 economies. The 2017 edition includes updated indicators on access to and use of formal and informal financial services. And it adds new data on the use of financial technology (fintech), including the use of mobile phones and the internet to conduct financial transactions.
Financial inclusion is on the rise globally. The 2017 Global Findex database shows that 1.2 billion adults have obtained an account since 2011, including 515 million since 2014. Between 2014 and 2017, the share of adults who have an account with a financial institution or through a mobile money service rose globally from 62 percent to 69 percent.
In developing economies, the share rose from 54 percent to 63 percent. Yet, women in developing economies remain 9 percentage points less likely than men to have a bank account. This third edition of the database points to advances in digital technology that are key to achieving the World Bank goal of Universal Financial Access by 2020.