According to a survey done by EFINA Access to Financial Services in 2018, 36.6 million adults representing 36.8 million of 99.9 million total adult population in Nigeria are financially excluded.
In the North Western region, 62 percent of 23 million adults and 55 percent of 12 million adults in the North East are financially excluded.
The Central Bank of Nigeria National Financial Inclusion Strategy Review found out that the reason for low adoption of financial products was due to cultural and religious factors.
The North East and North West regions are predominantly Muslims whose religion forbids interest payments on loans amongst other practices undertaken by conventional deposit money banks. Islam permits rather profit sharing on money borrowed for business purposes. All the major financial institutions such as First Bank of Nigeria with over 33,000 First Monie Agents across the 36 states delivering its agency banking services are working to solve the financial exclusion problems. Shared Agent Network Expansion Facilities (SANEF) plans to create 500,000 agents in the 774 local government areas of the country by December 2020 who will on board 17 million new account holders. Meanwhile Fintech companies have not taken this key demographic into consideration in designing their product offerings to deepen financial inclusion.
Softcom, an indigenous company focused on addressing fundamental developmental issues linked to identity, payment, data and learning, wants to fix this friction with its latest product ‘’Eyowo’’ – a peer to peer payment system which allows people to send and receive money through the use of their phone numbers.
Eyowo aims to provide last mile financial services to anyone with the use of their mobile phone number. This includes consumers, retailers, businesses and developers. Nigeria has about 173 million GSM subscribers with about a 100 million not served by the current financial system.
Eyowo wants every mobile subscriber in Nigeria to send and receive money, purchase airtime, bills payment, dollar denominated virtual cards for international payments and cardless ATM withdrawals through codes sent from the platform, request and accept payment from customers, save and earn interest, borrow money at zero interest which will attract Muslims, and access to dollar denominated cards for international transactions.
The platform has engineered various products to meet the needs of every Nigerian irrespective of class and is available on Android, IOS, USSD for millions of non consumers of smartphones, Voice, SMS and on the web.
To transform the retail sector, its Eyowo Retail, is an end to end solution for managing orders, payments, inventory, customers, settlements and reports for retailers to run their businesses efficiently. It will also allow enterprises accept multi-payment options expanding the customer base and horizon for those connected to the internet who can only receive payments from those with bank accounts.
This solution allows retailers accept cash, transfer, card and Eyowo wallet payments in a single interface with or without mobile internet subscription. Considering the fact that a good number of Nigerians do not engage in electronic commerce because of issues surrounding available and accessible broadband connectivity, cyberfraud and logistics, this is a game changer to deepen retail activities across Nigeria. It also has a change management system that allows retailers to send the amount of change owed their customers through the customer phone number and automate account reconciliation for them.
Eyowo for Business allows entrepreneurs to input gross annual salary of employees while it calculates monthly pensions, taxes and other deductibles remitting them to the relevant agencies.
Eyowo has created a developer platform which enables developers to build payment products, tools and unique experiences for its customers through it’s Developer Application Programming Interface, Software Developer Kit and other integrations to enable platforms receive and make payments to anyone through their mobile phone numbers. Using machine learning, it is also able to run credit scoring on its customers and those who have positive financial habits can borrow money with no interest.
Nigerian financial institutions offer between 22 to about 30 percent interest rate on loans which makes it difficult for individuals and SMEs to access credit facilities from them.
Eyowo can be integrated with 1,500 different applications around the world and has partnered with leading financial institutions in Nigeria. It can be funded through debit card, USSD and bank deposit.
Eyowo should also build products tailored for farmers, Muslims, cooperative groups and the wider African market in the light of creating a single platform for all Africans to access financial services irrespective of their location on the continent connected to the blockchain for transparency and security.