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By Adedapo Adesanya

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) revealed that the Nigerian payments system attracted investments of around $ 500 million between 2015 and 2020.

The governor of the national lender, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said this Wednesday when speaking in Enugu at the 31st Financial Correspondents and Business Publishers Seminar on the topic Nigerian Payments System Trends: Regulating the Digital Fintech Playground.

He said that over the past 14 years, the Nigerian payment system has evolved dramatically with extensive technological development supported by deliberate enabling regulation of the CBN.

Mr. Emefiele, who was represented by Deputy Governor for Business Services, Mr. Edward Adamu, said the payments system has undoubtedly accelerated the development of new financial products, services and channels, all of which have placed Nigeria at the forefront of financial markets. race for innovation.

He said that due to lockdowns associated with handling the COVID-19 pandemic, financial traffic to digital platforms increased significantly in 2020.

“Indeed, the spread of the virus at the time accelerated the speed of digitization of many sectors of the economy,” he said.

“As expected, discussions have multiplied around the issue of the digital economy, just as new opportunities have presented themselves to financial institutions and other players in the payments ecosystem to innovate and offer solutions. more efficient options for payments and settlements, ”added Mr. Emefiele.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the biggest crises humanity has faced in recent history, adding that Nigeria, like most commodity-dependent countries, has failed. not spared from the deleterious impact of the pandemic, given our reliance on crude oil exports as our primary source of income and foreign exchange.

“In addition, the pandemic has tested the operational resilience and business continuity strategies of our banks. Operational risk increased due to increased reliance on technology and third party service providers during the period.

“In addition, the risk of money laundering and cybercrime has increased. There is also a high risk of unauthorized access to banking networks and data security breaches.

“It should be noted that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has estimated the global economic cost of the COVID-19 pandemic at $ 28 trillion in lost production.

“In an effort to deal with the fallout from the pandemic, authorities around the world have implemented extraordinary policy measures to mitigate financial stability risks and we were no exception,” the banker said.

In response to the crisis, he said that the CBN has introduced and implemented a series of measures aimed at reducing the risk to financial stability, stimulating demand and economic growth, improving the impact of the pandemic on certain sectors and debtors, such as oil and gas. , the manufacturing, agricultural, pharmaceutical and hotel sectors.

“As I noted recently, our robust payment system has continued to evolve to meet the needs of households and businesses in Nigeria. The high level of confidence in our payment system, between 2015 and 2020, attracted an investment of around $ 500 million in companies run by Nigerian founders.

“Despite these gains, around 36% of adult Nigerians still do not have access to financial services. Improving access to finance for individuals and businesses through digital channels can help improve financial inclusion, lower transaction costs and increase the flow of credit to businesses, ”he said. .

In others to improve financial inclusion, he said the CBN has decided to introduce a central bank digital currency, eNaira, which would help achieve our goals of fostering greater inclusion using digital channels. , to support cross-border payments for businesses and businesses as well as to provide a reliable channel for remittances within the country.

Mr Emefiele, however, explained that with the deployment of eNaira, Nigerians in remote areas can conduct financial activities using their digital as well as functionality on phone devices.

“In partnership with our financial sector stakeholders, I believe more Nigerians will be included financially,” said the former group managing director of Zenith Bank Plc.

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