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Diamond Bank boss, Dozie says identity inclusion first before financial inclusion

The Managing Director of Diamond Bank Plc, Uzoma Dozie, has raised fresh policy direction to the nation’s drive to financial inclusion, saying “It is not about financial inclusion but identity inclusion”.
In an interview, Dozie averred that “Identity inclusion is what we need in Nigeria,” stressing that “Identity inclusion means that if I reach you or you want to make transaction, I can verify your identity”.
It would recalled that Nigeria has in the last few years been struggling to deepen financial inclusion so as to push many Nigerians into the digital financial transaction basket, but the drive has been back and forth due to apparent lack of credible national identity database.
Though the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) had been campaigning for massive registration for the National Identity Number (NIN) to the extent the Commission has encouraged the government to make the presentation of NIN mandatory in certain transactions involving government attention including issuance of International Passport and access to social investment schemes of the government.
Dozie further noted that “In Nigeria today, we have passport, voter’s card, BVN, driver’s license and the likes, about seven identity platforms. But we have in the banking industry, 35 million biometric verified people and that is probably one of the most accurate forms of identity because with passport not many people will travel so you don’t need a passport, not many people drive”. “So we have BVN and for us inclusion can only grow in a right environment and that is our aim, if I know who you are, it doesn’t matter where you live as long as I can locate you with your verified identity. Mobile drive society Twenty years ago, if you are going for the weekend, you will carry like N50,000 because you know that the banks will not open and there won’t be ATM there.
However, he argued that “Today, I can use my mobile phone, I can do a cardless transaction. We are more advanced because we are kind of a mobile driven society and not a card driven society so if I ask you how many transactions did you do yesterday, you might probably say 10 and most of them were mobile and that is the most cost effective platform. So it just required the right leadership and stakeholders to come together”.
“Assuming that BVN is the most credible identity platform, at 35 million it is still very low compared to the total population.
On what the Nigerian banks are doing to deepen inclusion, Diamond Bank chief executive added that banks are working to push adequate coverage of the population against the 2020 financial inclusion target by rolling out bank agency network.
He revealed that “The banks have come together under SANEF and the whole idea of SANEF is to roll out the agency banking platform so that anybody can do service for all the banks. These things can change tomorrow”.
“If today, government comes out and say any transaction above N100,000 have to be electronic, you will see what will happen. Immediately people will start having biometric identity, people will start opening accounts. If you drop it down to N50,000, you will see people start rushing in and more when you drop to N10,000.
“The reason why people have account in the UK is that you can’t be carrying cash, it is too expensive, only drug dealers do that or people who want to evade tax. The only reason for carry cash is because you want to reduce your tax liability, you are doing things that you cannot declare,” Dozie revealed.