Author(s): Babajide Abiola Ayopo,Lawal Adedoyin Isola,Tochukwu Chibuzor Okafor,Isibor Areghan Akhanolu,Bede Uzoma Achugamonu and Godswill Osuma
Recent statistics show that the South-West geopolitical zone in Nigeria achieved 80% financial inclusion in 2016, ahead of the 2020 target set by the National Financial Inclusion Strategy Group (NFISG). This paper thus examines the factors behind the early success and also ascertains the sustainability of the success achieved. In a survey of 475 low-income earners randomly selected across the six states in the South-West geopolitical zone in Nigeria, 348 have a bank account with a formal institution, while the other 127 have no formal bank account. Descriptive statistics, sample t-tests and probit regression analysis were used to test hypotheses. The findings reveal that male adults, aged 20–40 years, urban dwellers with high Internet penetration in the state, in environments with active state government policy concerning financial inclusion, being salaried earner or self-employed are likely to own and use bank accounts more frequently than others. Other findings reveal that irregular income/job loss, hidden/unknown charges, high maintenance fees, lack of trust and long queues in the bank are high threat factors for financial inclusion, while new employment, performing banking transactions via mobile phone, target product, financial literacy education and access to loans are drivers of financial inclusion in the study area. The study, therefore, recommends, among other things, that employment generation policies across the states should target low-income groups that are easily displaced due to their skill level.