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As part of its policy thrust in the next five years, Nigerian apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), will intensify its financial literacy and consumer protection programmes, Godwin Emefiele, governor of the CBN, said in Abuja at a press interactive session.
“We will intensify our financial literacy and consumer protection programmes such that current and eligible bank customers are fully aware of the financial services being offered to them as well as the cost of utilising these services, which will enable them to make well-informed choices,” Emiefele said.
“Besides providing valuable information to banking customers, we are committed to developing and enforcing strong rules to protect consumers. Our banking supervisory and consumer protection department at the CBN will ensure that dispute resolution mechanism in financial institutions are not only efficient but also timely, in order to maintain the confidence of the Nigerian populace in the utilisation of banking services,” he further said.
Hitherto, the CBN has stepped up concern for the interest of bank customers across the country. Since last quarter of last year, it has made some strides. CBN has been accepted into the International Financial Consumer Protection Organisation(FinConNet); it coordinated the convening of a National Financial Literacy Conference to galvanise all regulatory agencies in the financial sector towards educating more Nigerians on managing finances to improve their financial capability and increasing financial inclusion towards achieving the 2020 80percent financial inclusion target.
According to our findings, to achieve effective and timely resolution of consumer complaints, the CBN has deployed a Consumer Complaints Management System which is used to monitor consumer complaints submitted to the banks by their customers.
Moreover, the CBN has commenced collaborating with a number of advocacy groups on consumer protection. It is expected that consumer protection activities will be stepped up as envisaged by the CBN governor in his speech. The speech recognises the importance of consumer protection to financial system stability as a satisfied customer not only remains in the system but is also an attraction to other Nigerians who are yet to be included.
Banks have recently started to take the issue of consumer protection seriously as the CBN now sanctions failures on their part on regular basis.
CBN can now monitor offsite, how banks are resolving these complaints and intervenes when and if a bank exceeds the time allowed for resolution.
And interestingly, our findings show that the apex bank is currently being flooded with testimonies of customers who have benefited from the bank’s protection mechanism.
Also as part of its five-year policy thrust, the CBN chief said, “Over the next five years, through initiatives and policy measures such as the Shared Agent Network (SANEF) and the payment service banks, we intend to broaden access to financial services to individuals in underserved parts of the country. Our ultimate objective is to ensure that 95 percent of eligible Nigerians have access to financial services by 2024,” the CBN governor said.
According to him, “Beyond our intervention programmes, we are also working to encourage banks and financial institutions to lend from their balance sheet in order to support the growth of critical sectors of the economy, such as Agriculture, MSMEs and the Real Estate Sector. Greater emphasis on improving consumer spending and business investment by MSMEs is critical to sustainable double-digit growth of the Nigerian economy.
“MSMEs today, constitute over 90 percent of businesses in the country. Through the national collateral registry, over N400 billion worth of movable assets have been registered by MSMEs in the registry. We intend to triple this number over the next 3 years. Our ultimate objective is to broaden the range of collaterals that MSMEs can provide to banks in order to obtain credit. This will help improve access to credit for farmers and MSMEs, and it will also support the growth of their respective businesses.”