President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Thursday said that the Senate is working to ensure the growth of digital Financial Technology (FinTech) popularly known as digital financing in Nigeria.
Saraki stated this in his address before the Africa Finance Forum, organized by the Corporate Council on Africa, at this year’s Spring Meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) holding in Washington D.C.
He said that the Senate is desirous to see Nigerian banks expand with capacities to create opportunities for financial services penetration and support for enterprises.
He further averred that the Red Chamber, through its Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions is engaged in legislative interventions to ensure financial inclusion for all, “especially in the rural areas where a large percentage still remains unbanked by bridging services between the banking and telecommunications sectors.”
While commending the Corporate Council on Africa for convening the event and its inspired focus on the FinTech environment on the African continent, Saraki emphasized that the Senate will continue to encourage innovation in the Financial Technology (FinTech) space in Nigeria.
He also noted that Financial Technology has enjoyed a tremendous upsurge in the global economy and is currently creating a lot of excitement in Africa in general, and Nigeria in particular, as the next frontier in the industry.
Saraki said: “The net impact of our legislative interventions; through the relevant Committee’s oversight and engagement will be to expand the ability of our banking sector to facilitate digital financing, expand the opportunity for financial services penetration and reach with the SMEs, and for enterprise support.
“We believe that these will give a fillip to the development of innovation and private sector capacity across the country. You will agree with me that innovation is the engine that powers financial inclusion. We are therefore working assiduously to encourage innovation in the FinTech space in Nigeria, and we shall continue to do so,” he stated.
He noted that challenges militating against the growth of FinTech in Nigeria include but not limited to issues about consumer protection, intellectual property, concerns about money laundering and fraudulent activity.
He said: “FinTech growth requires us to pay attention to all of these, and to come up with regulatory frameworks that will safeguard our people.
“Therefore, as we seek to improve the business environment for SMEs and tech entrepreneurs in Nigeria, we are also committed to passing legislation that strikes a balance between facilitating the sector and maintaining a secure financial system.
“We are continuously working to reframe our payment systems, strengthen mechanisms for electronic commerce, reduce non-performing loans and strengthen the credit market for SMEs through a broad range of legislative interventions,” he said.
He said the Senate has continued its legislative interventions by passing the Electronic Transactions Act; the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill; the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission Act.
He said while the Consumer Protection Commission Act creates a Consumer Protection Commission to safeguard consumers from fraud and price manipulation; the Consumer Credit Agency Act allows lenders to better assess the credit worthiness of loan applicants.
He stated that the Credit Reporting Act, which has been signed into law, will enable the market reduce credit delinquencies, serve as a behaviour change and institutional framework that brings sanity into the credit community which will inspire confidence in the Nigerian market by drawing in more participants.
“The Secure Transactions in Movable Assets is the signature bill in our support of SMEs,” Saraki stated. “It frees up capital and creates opportunity for the funding of SME ventures as never seen before in Nigeria.”
“With this law, we have created a new stream of opportunity for SMEs to access capital by using movable goods including small machinery, cell phones and even household items as collateral. The implication of this is enormous in terms of dealing with capital formation and poverty eradication.
“Our work is not exhaustive and will continue to adapt to changes that innovation in technology brings.
“We are confident in the signals we are sending to the world, that Nigeria fully intends to key into the astronomical growth of the FinTech industry – and to harness its full potential for the benefit of the largest economy in Africa; and we welcome any partnerships that ensure that this happens.