As the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) warms up to launch its National Microfinance Bank , the number of existing micro finance banks (MFBs) in the country has plummeted by 11 per cent to 898 this month.
According to the apex bank, as at February 13 ( 2019), the number of the mfbs, licensed to provide micro finance services nationwide, stood at 898 in contrast to 1,008 same period last year. This showed that about 110 MFBs may have closed shops.
In 2018, the apex bank licensed additional 28 MFBs in 15 states as part of its National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) drive targeted, among other objectives, at ensuring that financial services get to the un-banked or financially excluded people in rural communities.
Recently, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, disclosed that the apex bank, in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee and the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), planned to establish a national microfinance bank to create better access to credit.
According to him, the proposed national MFB would explore the existing NIPOST’s offices across the 774 local government areas to commence operations when established.
He explained: “We have called on NIPOST and they have agreed to join us in this. They would provide their facilities in 774 local government areas and this would be their own contribution by way of equity into the establishment of the national MFB.
“We would provide the infrastructure and this MFB would be available in 774 local governments across the nation”, Emefiele added.
On why NIPOST remains key to taking the proposed MFB to the grassroots, the CBN governor said that the proposed MFB would partner with NIPOST because of its numerous locations.
This is even as he explained that the apex bank-owned Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) would be expected to bring its experience in financing low-income entrepreneurs and de-risking credit to bear on the national MFB by providing guarantee in line with its mandate.