NIGERIA – The Central Bank of Nigeria has revealed that about US$400 million has been invested in fintech firms in the country in 2019.
The Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said this noting that the increase in investment in the fintech sector was part of initiatives to drive financial inclusion in the banking sector.
Emefiele said, “In an effort to build a more inclusive financial system and to improve the efficacy of monetary policy tools, we provided 15 super-agent licenses as well as three Payment Service Bank licences to telecommunications and fintech companies.”
The CBN governor noted that these measures were aiding in the development of a robust payment infrastructure and an expansion of agent locations across the country.
He said, “As a result of our policy measures, in 2019, over US$400 million have been invested in fintech companies, focused on supporting improved payment services in Nigeria.”
Some of the fintech’s that attracted the most funding include Interswitch which raised US$200 million after selling a 20% stake to Visa, PalmPay which raised about US$40 million in a seed round led by Chinese investors, and Opay which was able to raise US$120 million in a series B funding.
With the entrance of new players into the payment services market and the strengthening of the 16 financial networks, Emefiele said, a growing number of underserved Nigerians had access to cost effective banking services.
The CBN governor also said, as part of the bank’s priorities for 2020, it was determined to maintain its stable exchange policy stance in the near to medium term, given the relatively high level of reserves.
He said the bank would also sustain these efforts in 2020 as part of its plan to reduce financial exclusion rate to under 20 per cent over the next year.
The governor added that the bank would also improve access to credit for farmers and Small and Medium Enterprises by deepening its intervention efforts through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme and the Real Sector Support Funds, among others.
He said the bank, in pushing to improve access to finance and credit, would protect farmers and SMEs from unfair banking and lending practices by maintaining oversight on the banks and other financial institutions.
Central Bank of Nigeria also revealed that it is working with the fiscal authorities to support the recovery of the economy.
The CBN governor reiterated that Nigeria was open to business and urged investors to take advantage of the investment opportunities in Nigeria.
Emefiele concluded by assuring investors that their investments in Nigeria would be duly protected by the authorities.