Nigeria is lagging behind in financial inclusion and mobile money in Africa, according to the International Finance Corporation.
This was contained in a report by the body captioned “Digital Access: The Future of Financial Inclusion in Africa.”
According to the report, the number of financially excluded people in Nigeria increased by 2.1 per cent in 2017 to 40.1 million.
In addition, the IFC said that the country’s under-performance was related to the modest growth in mobile money.
It said the number of mobile money accounts expanded by just six per cent in Nigeria in 2017, compared with double-digit growth in many jurisdictions.
The report held the regulator largely responsible, pointing to the Central Bank Nigeria’s guidelines of 2009 that barred mobile operators from offering mobile money products.
“Instead, the central bank has awarded operating licenses to companies ranging from retail banks to financial technology firms. The target to reduce the excluded ratio to 20 per cent of Nigerian adults by 2020 looks highly ambitious,” the report said.
The report stated that the macro importance of mobile money was that it helped to bring people into the tax-paying net.
The Federal Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, disclosed last week that taxpayer numbers had risen from 13 million in mid-2015 to 19.3 million currently.
Analysts said the principal drivers had been computerisation enforcement steps and the tax amnesty rather than mobile money.