The Measuring Fees and Transparency in Nigeria’s Digital Financial services report has examined the compliance levels with fee structures, price transparency requirements, the reliability of transactions and the consistency of information available from customer service channels.
The report highlights barriers that impact consumer trust in financial services.
According to the report, Nigeria’s digital financial services ecosystem has rapidly evolved over the last decade due to increased broadband and mobile penetration and digital payments, which boost financial access in urban, rural, and hard-to-reach areas across the country.
This progress provides underbanked populations with greater access to digital banking products, mobile payments, savings and credit facilities – transforming the financial inclusion landscape. However, between 2018 and 2020, financial exclusion in Nigeria decreased by only one percentage point, from 37 per cent in 2018 to 36 per cent in 2020.
“The cost of financial services remains a major barrier to access for price-sensitive consumers, especially within marginalised, vulnerable, and lower-income segments of society. In addition, any lack of transparency on product pricing, departures from regulated pricing and limits trust between customers and service providers,” it said.
A new collaboration between Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) and the Inclusion for All initiative aims to address the challenges and understand the ease of accessing accurate price information from providers and their levels of compliance with the revised pricing guidelines.
Director, Consumer Protection Department, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mrs. Rashida Monguno, commended IPA and Inclusion for All for the study, said: “This ground-breaking research provides new evidence and insights on one of the most critical aspects of consumer protection which is pricing transparency. Consumers’ right to easily access and understand the cost of services they use is one of the most fundamental rights of consumers. The research provides a baseline for future audits and identifies several areas which require improvement. I trust that the results will be instrumental in exploring new conversations that will result in tangible changes in the digital financial services marketplace.”
CBN recognised the impact of product pricing on financial inclusion outcomes and reviewed pricing guidelines in 2019, issuing lowered pricing caps for e-banking transactions from January 2020. In addition, the apex bank encouraged financial service providers to restructure transaction fees and limits.
The action supports Nigeria’s digital financial services uptake, which increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, where government responses such as lockdown restrictions led to the temporary closure of bank branches, reinforcing digital access.