A common attribute of the financially excluded population is illiteracy; except on few occasions.
According to the Oxford dictionaries; Illiteracy means inability to read or write.
Our society has magnified this inability and made it become an impediment in interacting with the financial sector. We often unconsciously specify the interpretation of illiteracy and then classify anyone that could not read or write in only English language as a complete illiterate.
The financially excluded population in Nigeria could be classified in to categories ‘A’ and ‘B’ as seen below:
A. Those who cannot read or write in any language but could speak fluently in their local languages.
B. Those who cannot read or write in English language but could read or write in their local languages.
A lot of the people in the category ‘B’ above had been unconsciously excluded from the financial sector in spite of having more capabilities than those in category ‘A’.
Although, very daring few of the population in both categories listed above maintained bank accounts and have active insurance policies by relying solely on a third-party for interpretation. This often made them more to become vulnerable to financial risks.
Unfortunately, I could not quote the statistics of literacy status of the financially excluded population. My assumptions were derived from experience and interactions with the space from south-west to North-West of the country.
We can achieve more success in financial inclusion drive when we pay more attention to the attributes of the target population.
Products represented in local languages should spring up to make interaction easier with the target population. For instance, banking apps and USSD interactions could come with language options (Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo). This will give the users the opportunity to permanently set their language preference while signing up.
This will reform the sector as people who are literate only in their local languages but financially excluded will become relevant and eager. Also, those that are already financially included with third-party’s aid will become independent as they will definitely appreciate the new interactive approach more.
Products such as transactions alerts through both SMS and Email could also be made to conform to this proposed language selection for interaction. This will drastically reduce vulnerability since vital information regarding information security through these channels will certainly be understood by the receivers of this information.
Those in the ‘A’ category that could neither read nor write in any language but could speak their local languages fluently will found documents and interfaces represented in their local languages more reliable and addressable. This will influence their decision to be signed-on with guidance from a selected third-party. Only those who are physically handicapped should need any available third-party’s aid in this process.
A radical or selective financial inclusion drive will not guarantee customer retention even if people are forcefully (made to have bank account to enjoy a favor or opportunity) or deceitfully (made to have a bank account with a promise of incentives) included, if the system does not pay attention to comfort-ability, privacy and simplicity of processes as they concerned the target population.