Digital PayExpo 2019: Oluwadare Owolabi, MD/CEO Xpress Payments Speaks on Financial Inclusion

One of Nigeria’s indigenous digital payment service providers, Xpress Payment Solutions Limited, has said it is vigorously driving and deepening financial inclusion by taking financial services to the unbanked, particularly rural dwellers.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Xpress Payment Solutions Limited, Oluwadare Owolabi, said this at the 19th Annual Digital PayExpo Conference and Exhibition in Lagos while speaking on ‘Payment initiatives driving digital financial services innovation.’
According to him, until payment services are taken from major cities and towns in the country to the unbanked rural dwellers, the financial inclusion target of the Central Bank of Nigeria may not achieve the set objectives, and many will be denied access to financial services and products.

The three-day event brought together digital service providers and relevant stakeholders, with the theme, ‘Finclusion: Aligning expectations with the digital financial service business case.’
Owolabi said, “In driving or deepening digital payment services in the rural areas in the country, we have our licensed super agents that enable us to recruit and deploy agents across the nation. So, we are focusing mainly on villages in unbanked areas.

“That is what Xpress Payment Solutions Limited is doing. We are available in the rural areas across the country and we are in remote villages, and this has facilitated the growth of financial inclusion.”
On threat posed by quack payment service providers, Owolabi suggested that the CBN should set up a machinery through which it will receive feedback on the activities of those providers and devise means of arresting the situation.

He said, “The CBN should have a machinery to understand what is going on in the market. They should have machinery that drives report to them. They should have machinery to see what is happening outside of us. The CBN is a regulator and should do more to cover every nook and cranny of the country.”

According to him, to upscale the financially excluded would require cooperation from the service providers and the regulators and pushing services to the unbanked locations before the country can achieve the desired set objectives.

He said, “There is a lot of work from all parties, from the country, the regulator and each party providing services. We all need to work together and collaborate to drive financial inclusion in Nigeria either through technology, processes, people and training. All parties need to work on it.”

Owolabi, who posited that access to financial services was a major challenge faced by third-world countries like Nigeria, explained that digital payment services were impacting the country’s economy.

He added, “Transactions are being seen across the board; funds that are being transferred are recorded on a daily basis by the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System and we can see that things are moving but the money moving is still restricted to the urban areas. We’ve not seen a lot in the villages; we’ve not seen a lot in the North, we’ve not seen a lot there yet. Those are the ones we need to see.

“The people need to be financially included. It’s not only in Lagos. Until we take digital payment services to the nook and cranny, particularly the villages, we are not going to see much successes in what we do.”

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