British envoy decries Nigeria’s three per cent mobile money penetration

ritish Deputy High Commissioner in Nigeria, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, has decried the most populous black nation’s three per cent mobile money penetration.

He spoke yesterday in Lagos while delivering a keynote address at the second Fintech Week themed, “Setting Agenda for Cashless Lagos.”
Checks by The Guardian showed that though Nigeria boasts of over 200 million active mobile subscription and 151 million Internet users, these rich credentials have, however, not translated to better mobile money services in the country.

Llewellyn-Jones, who sees the concept as key to successful implementation of the Federal Government’s cashless economy programme, noted that electronic transactions could save time, increase productivity, safety and tax revenue, as well as tame corruption, money laundering and terrorism.

He lauded Lagos State for developing solutions to drive broader financial inclusion nationwide, admitting that financial inclusion is higher in the nation’s economic capital.

Stating that more is needed to be done, the British diplomat submitted: “If there is a silver bullet for financial inclusion, and cashless Lagos, it is mobile money. The new payment service banks will serve people who the traditional banks regard as too poor to be of interest. Mobile money transfers are also suitable for small payments.

“Among our neighbours in West Africa, mobile money is gaining traction In Burkina Faso, Cote d’ Ivoire, Senegal and Ghana. The proportion of people with mobile money accounts ranges from 33 to 45 per cent (Ghana). In Kenya, more than 80 per cent of the population has mobile money, whereas it is only just starting in Nigeria.”

He continued: “Based on some recent modelling for UKAid, the proper roll out of mobile money could add about 46 million people to the Nigerian financial system, boost GDP by 12 per cent and create three million jobs in Nigeria.”

Llewellyn-Jones said mobile money accounts would represent the first step for many to access other financial services, adding that transaction data would enable them get savings accounts and loans.

“People can also use mobile money to make instalmental payment for their solar home systems – helping the five million solar energy connections project,” he added.

Given this, he said, the United Kingdom “is pleased to see the issuance of the first Payment Service Bank licences (officially launched in August 2020) in Nigeria and hopes to see services starting soon in Lagos.”

The expectation, according to him, is that Nigeria could catch up fast with the support of regulator, for safety of consumers and the financial system.

To the Briton, EFInA (the UK financial inclusion entity in Nigeria) could support the regulator and provide Know Your Customer (KYC) and best practice regulation for low-income earners and Fintechs.