The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has said the current dispute between telecoms companies and deposit money banks (DMBs) because of non-payment for the provision of the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) transactions must be resolved in the overall interest of financial consumers.
The CBN governor stated this on Monday when he launched the SabiMONI e-Learning Platform, a fully digital national e-learning portal that provides a knowledge base for financial literacy
He however, expressed optimism that the dispute between the banks and telcos which had dragged on for over three years, would be amicably resolved especially through the instrumentality of the central bank.
Telecoms operators in Nigeria had last Friday, withdrawn their services to banks, causing customers difficulty in accessing online banking transactions that depend on the platform. These are transactions conducted on mobile phones like fund transfers through shortcodes, and checking of bank details and account balances, among other services with or without data or internet services.
The spokesperson for the CBN, Dr. Isa Abdulmumin, had on Monday, explained that the apex bank was on top of the situation, blaming the dispute on technical issues regarding the definition of a successful transaction from a bank and telco perspective.
According to the CBN governor if the problem is not resolved, the people will suffer. Like we say, when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.
“Those that will suffer when these disagreements linger would be the users of banking services.”
The CBN governor particularly noted that the USSD technology was brought into the financial inclusion design because it remained a great enabler for the vulnerable people in the nooks and crannies of the country.
Nonetheless, he said to address the financial inclusion gaps, the National Financial Inclusion Strategy 2022, identified increasing adoption and usage of financial services in priority demographics comprising of the most vulnerable segments including women, youth, MSMEs, rural dwellers and especially, the Northern part of the country as well as expansion of digital financial services and platforms among its strategic priority areas.
He said to achieve these objectives, deliberate steps must be taken to upscale financial capability through financial education programmes, adding that shortage of skilled and experienced persons to drive financial education remained a major hindrance.
Emefiele stressed that the National Financial Inclusion Strategy 2022 places high priority on financial and digital learning as a strategy that would enable the creation of a conducive environment for serving or ensuring the inclusion of the most excluded groups.
The central bank governor pointed out that financial literacy remained one of the key drivers of financial Inclusion – and constitutes a prerequisite for greater financial inclusion, which would lead to the stability of the financial system and ultimately economic growth and development.
He said the apex bank would do everything possible to achieve the 94 per cent financial inclusion target by the end of January 2024.
He said, “We made a promise that by 2022, we would have gone close to 80 per cent financial inclusion and 2024, we would have achieved 95 per cent.
“Unfortunately, we are where we are today which is just below the 70 per cent mark.”
Meanwhile, Emefiele said the SabiMONI e-learning platform would enable the CBN drive financial education physically through the Certified Financial Literacy Trainers at the locations where it is most needed – as well as drive digital financial literacy thereby boosting consumer confidence in the uptake and utilisation of digital financial services.
The portal, he said, would serve as a repository of information not only for learners but also for researchers in the most effective manner.
Emefiele said the initiative would provide individuals with the opportunity to be trained and become Certified Financial Literacy Trainers through self-service, and support the bank’s efforts towards ramping up the number of experts that can be used to drive financial education in the country and abroad.
He said, “Research has shown that the absence of or low levels of financial literacy constitutes an impediment to financial inclusion. In other words, the pace of financial inclusion is directly related to the level of financial literacy and financial capability.”
The CBN governor added that financial inclusion remained a strong lever for bridging income inequality, combating poverty and preserving social harmony and ultimately financial system stability in the country.