Data is answer to financial inclusion, literacy – GTCO’s Agbaje

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The Group Chief Executive Officer of Guaranty Trust Holding Company (GTCO), Segun Agbaje, has said affordability of data will boost financial inclusion and literacy in Nigeria.

Agbaje disclosed this at a media parley in Lagos while reacting to questions on the lingering billing and debt crisis between telecommunication companies and Deposit Money Banks over the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) transactions.

He argued that other economies similar to Nigeria are promoting financial inclusion and literacy by making data available to citizens.

“We have all missed the rising cost of data in Nigeria in comparison to other economies like ours. We are being distracted by USSD. You want financial inclusion, you want to improve literacy, bring down the cost of data.

“USSD is not the answer. The answer is to get the cost of data down in Nigeria. Countries like India don’t use USSD, they use mobile banking because data is affordable. Give us a technology that is data driven and robust,” he noted.

He also stressed that the banks are not against the use of USSD but are neither willing to pay for unsuccessful transactions nor transfer the cost to the end-users.

While dispelling insinuations that FINTECH companies are doing better than the banks, Agbaje noted that the ‘japa’ syndrome in the industry can only be curtailed with an improved economy where the attraction of leaving the country is reduced.

Agbaje argued that the Nigerian banking industry is not as profitable as being insinuated because of inflation and devaluation.

“The Nigerian banking industry is not as profitable as you think compared to the South African banking industry, compared to what has happened to devaluation. We were probably more profitable years ago. You are looking at profit in a devalued economy. For instance, If you make N74bn in profit, by the time you convert it to dollars in today’s economy, it is not what it was five years ago. What is the ROI of Nigerian banks? Inflation is 22%, if you are printing an ROI less than 22%, you are impoverishing your shareholders. We are really not as profitable as you think, the industry needs to be more profitable to keep pace with inflation and devaluation,” he added.