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Reviewing strategies for financial inclusion

Reviewing strategies for financial inclusion

EIGHT years after the Nigerian authorities introduced a programme to deepen financial penetration among the citizens, the country is still far off from achieving its ambitious target. In a new report, the Central Bank of Nigeria admits that the country is not on track to meet its lofty objective of bringing in more Nigerians into the formal financial net. With high hopes, the CBN and the Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access, a research and advocacy organisation, teamed up in 2012 to reduce Nigeria’s high incidence of financial exclusion. Seeing that the goal has not materialised, the regulator and its partners have to embark on a fresh plan of action, based on critical reviews of the existing approaches and multiple innovations on what else should be done.

Research shows that countries with deeper levels of financial inclusion — defined as access to affordable, appropriate financial services — have stronger GDP growth rates and lower income inequality. Identified as an enabler for seven of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the World Bank considers financial inclusion a key building block to reduce extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. Crucially, more than 55 countries have made commitments to financial inclusion, and more than 60 have either launched or are developing a national strategy, the bank adds. In India, a digital platform is set to cover 1.2 billion citizens. Singapore is regarded as running a highly successful financial inclusion project in South-East Asia. “Digital financial services are expected to generate $38 billion in annual revenue within the region’s six largest markets by 2025; the full potential could increase to $60 billion,” a 2019 report titled, ‘Fulfilling Its Promise – The Future of South-East Asia’s Digital Financial Services Industry,’ stated.

Although Nigeria has taken a step towards improving financial inclusion, things are not working

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Consumer Reports: Smart money strategies during COVID-19 pandemic

Consumer Reports: Smart money strategies during COVID-19 pandemic

For millions of Americans, this year has forced them to make very difficult financial decisions. And while the economic recovery is very uneven, for people with some money leftover at the end of each month, the question might be what to do with it: Spend it or save it?

Consumer Reports has some strategies to help you make smart money decisions in these uncertain times.

Andrea Bloome has devised a whole system, so she can zero her credit card bills and plan for her future, at the same time.

“My best plan is to take the money before I ever even see it, so I don’t even know it exists,” she said.

Money experts at Consumer Reports agree with her strategy, and say it’s important to find the right balance.

“It’s difficult to tackle two financial goals at once, but if you take a two-pronged approach, you can save for retirement and pay down your debt at the same time,” said Consumer Reports Money Editor Penny Wang.

Start by taking a good, hard look at where your money is going. Several online tools can help you track your spending, including Mint-dot-com, which is free — and YNAB, short for You Need A Budget, which costs $84 a year.

Then, look for ways to free up cash. You’ll have the biggest impact with big ticket items — such as housing or transportation.

But small fixes, like making coffee yourself or cooking at home, can also add up over time.

Next, prioritize your debt. High interest credit cards should go first and then lower interest debt, like student loans.

Setting up automatic payments, like Andrea has can help make it mindless.

“It makes it much easier, because that way, you don’t have to remember each month to send in the money and

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