How fintechs are winning among unbanked rural population

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By Adedoyin Giwa

Nigeria, according to the World Population Review, is estimated to have over 99 million adult population. On the flip side of this, the country, according to the Central Bank, has 43.6 million Bank Verification Numbers as at November 2020. From the foregoing, it can safely be deduced that over  56% of Nigerian adults are unbanked. Huge chunk of this population are believed to reside in rural areas of the country. 

Despite this, the volume and value of online transactions in Nigeria has been increasing at an impressive rate in recent years. In the third quarter of 2020, the volume of online transactions stood at 569 million, as transaction value peaked at N44.3 trillion. Of the total volume, mobile phones and tablets were responsible for 77% of instant payment between 2018 and 2019. 

Interestingly, a notable amount of these transactions are carried out on mobile devices by unbanked and underbanked populations.  According to data from Nigeria Interbank Settlement System, (NIBSS), mobile phone transactions recorded the highest usage of all online transactions in 2018 with 132 million transactions, followed by USSD with 109 million transactions. In 2019, figures showed that mobile banking transactions surged to 220.8 million.

Making substantial contributions to this improvement is the payment solutions of e-commerce brands in Nigeria. Fintech products such as JumaPay, Opay, KongaPay and the likes are solving transaction problems beyond just their in-platform payment. Noteworthy is the fact that they are giving the unbanked and underbanked rural residents added advantage by providing prompt solutions on airtime recharge, data subscription and payment of other utility bills. 

A resident of Portharcourt in Rivers State, Matthew Ekejo, enjoys these benefits on his JumiaPay app. By login into the app on his mobile device, he shops for his needs and settles utility bills with convenience and ease. “I do most of my shopping on JumiaPay; data recharge cards and what -have-you. The shopping experience has been nice. The Jumia app makes life easy. It’s convenient and easy to load. It makes buying really easy. Like the NEPA bills we pay, going from one office to another to do these recharges – the stress and queue and all that. All these can be done from the comfort of your house. It ‘s easy and makes life better,” he said. 

With the increasing rate of mobile phone users in both rural and urban areas, fintechs will no doubt contribute immensely to financial inclusion of rural and unbanked populations in Nigeria.  

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