By Oluwafunke Ishola
Dr Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer, First Bank Nigeria Ltd., has called on the banking sector to assist political leaders to address the issues of poverty reduction in the country.
Adeduntan made the call on Thursday in Lagos at a joint seminar for Banking and Telecommunications Regulators from the SSA Locations on Digital Products and Payment Systems.
Theme of the seminar was: “Advancing ePayment and Digital Innovations in Africa- Evolution of Nigeria’s Payment Systems”.
Adeduntan said it was imperative to bring more people into the financial system, adding that this would help governments better to plan and integrate services for the poorest of the poor.
He said that as the global financial industry grapple with digital technology, First Bank was at the forefront in Africa, reinventing itself and evolving various digital disruptions to advance its service and drive financial inclusion.
The bank chief said that its Pan-African strategy was not about profit alone, but providing leadership, driving financial inclusion and working with regulators to ensure that banking sector leapfrog to growth.
He said the bank was working assiduously to ensure that the digital revolution becomes a Pan-African revolution.
Also, Mr Mike Ogbalu, the Divisional Chief Executive Officer, Interswitch, said that Nigeria’s payment system had evolved over the last 20 years with amazing impact on the economy, industry and lives of Nigerians.
He recalled that the defunct Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria had the first Automated Teller Machine (ATM) in the banking system, adding presently, over 20, 000 ATMs were used in the financial industry.
Ogbalu said ATMs had evolved in their functionality as payment system, adding that over N39 trillion transactions were processed through it in the fourth quarter of 2018.
He recalled that digital payment systems led the Central Bank of Nigeria to introduce the Cashless Policy in 2011, and also saw the rise of e-commerce in Nigeria.
Also, Mr Musa Jimoh, Deputy Director, Payment System Management, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said the apex bank would reduce poverty in Nigeria by achieving 80 per cent financial inclusion target by 2020.
Jimoh said that to address the poverty issue, CBN introduced mobile money to push financial services closer to the people; cashless policy to reduce cost of financial services and encouraged digital payment system.
According to him, Biometric Verification Number (BVN) was introduced on Feb. 14, 2014 to identify Nigerians, saying that 35 million bank customers had been captured through the BVN.
He said that CBN was striving to create an ecosystem where financial service could thrive in the country. (NAN)