Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), yesterday regretted that that despite over 900 licensed Microfinance banks in the country, 22 Deposit Money Banks and other formal financial service institutions, Nigeria can only boost of about 28.6 million bank accounts in a population of over 164 million people.

Speaking at the 7th Annual Banking and Finance Conference in Abuja, Head, Development Finance Department of CBN, Dr Ishaku Polycarp said that microfinance bank in the country have the ability to ensure financial involvement by all levels of the economy.

According to him “The CBN has designed and introduced into the system clear strategic framework that will enhance access to finance and accelerate action on financial inclusion drive in Nigeria. “With the introduction of the MSME funds, the mobile money platform, agency banking and other initiatives, more Nigerians will further be included, and consequently translating to enhanced economic activity.

According to him, this inclusion would create a virile economy for the country, and reposition in the world economy map. Speaking at the event, Chief Executive Officer of Fortis Microfinance Bank Plc, Mr. Kunle Oketikun, said that the current restructuring of microfinance banks, would sooner than expected draw more people into the economic pyramid of the country.

“There is a lot of misconception about the practice of microfinancing in Nigeria, particularly the feeling that the institutions should operate within seating rooms of individuals. This is not correct as most microfinance banks in other countries are actually out-performing most of the big commercial banks in Nigeria.

The only thing really micro about microfinancing is in the smallness of the loans and not that the entire operations would be small and confined to a room and parlor. With the introduction of mobile money, electronic banking and internet banking, the services of formal financial institutions will soon get to all Nigerians irrespective of location.

The Federal Government needs to assist the process by mandating that a certain fraction of salaries be paid through mobile channels to drive uptake and usage. This will ensure that in time Nigeria will outrun Kenya, South Africa and Brazil in financial inclusion’’.he said. Also, the former Chairman of First Bank Nigeria, Mr Oba Otudeko further stated that microfinance banks were indeed a strong instrument for financial inclusion.

“With deliberate synchronisation of the efforts of all the financial instruments we have, Nigeria will be a better country economically” he said