The efforts of deposit money banks in the country in driving the financial inclusion policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have been described as inadequate.
This was the opinion of economic and financial experts who spoke to Daily Independent on Tuesday in Lagos. They said though some banks are making efforts at bringing banking to the unbanked Nigerians, but some banks, especially, the Tier 1 banks seem not interested in the drive.
Taiwo Olagunju, a former bank manager who now runs a financial advisory firm in Lagos, said those banks that are in the forefront of the financial inclusion drive are the Tier 2 and Tier 3 banks and that little activities are seen from Tier 1 banks.
His words: “When last have you seen or heard banks like Zenith Bank or GTBank doing anything on financial inclusion? They seem not to be bothered. Financial inclusion is not all about internet banking; it is about taking banking to the doorstep of the unbanked in the rural areas.
“The motive for financial inclusion is not for literate people in the urban areas, but for non-literate who live in the rural areas who are into one business or the other. If these banks put in the same efforts they put into the cashless policy drive, then financial inclusion will score high marks”.
He said banks should not be ashamed of going to the rural areas to look for customers.
He cited the launch of financial inclusion at Makoko Fish Market, in the suburb of Lagos early last year by Sterling Bank where the then CBN Governor, Lamido Sanusi Lamido, was present.
Rasheed Alao, a lecturer of Economics, said that some banks are “vigorously driving it”, but others are not and what that means is that not all banks need more customers, especially in the rural areas.
“In most rural areas of Ondo State, you hardly see bank branches and if you don’t have branches, how can the people in the rural area do banking? These are people who cannot do internet banking because they are not educated. These are the people who need banks to drive their businesses. These are people who need to be assisted”, Alao stated.
In his reaction, Anor Anyanwu, former Executive Director with Mainstreet Bank, said some banks are doing their best in getting many unbanked people on board and that time is needed to achieve better result but added that a collective drive would have more significant result.
Managing Director of Diamond Bank, Uzoma Dozie, said financial inclusion is the key to unlock a better future for Nigerians irrespective of where they live.