The Financial Services Innovators (FSI) in collaboration with the Federal University of Technology, Minna(FUTMINNA), is set to host a virtual hackathon to foster innovation and promote the development of inclusive financial solutions in the northern part of Nigeria.
The FSI and FUTMINNA innovation challenge is aimed at proffering simple and seamless inclusive financial solutions for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises, focusing on the banking and insurance services sectors.
According to a statement on Wednesday by FSI, research has put the number of micro-enterprises in the North to over 15 million.
FSI said, “Many of the businesses are digitally and financially excluded, transacting daily in cash, as some of the existing solutions in the market are either too sophisticated for their needs or there are huge barriers to access the solutions.
“This hackathon will create employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for tech talents in Nigeria. The challenge is also open to students in any tertiary institution.”
Themed ‘Include Me’, the challenge will run, virtually and physically, from March 9 to 11, 2022 at the FUTMINNA campus.
Registration is open to participants from Wednesday, February 16, at noon, till Friday, March 11 at 11:59p.m. via the link, https://bit.ly/Include_Me, the statement added.
For FSI, MSMEs should be able to access financial services, irrespective of their location, size of business, and level of literacy or intelligence.
“The barriers MSMEs have in accessing financial services and transacting in the same digital environment should be reduced to the barest minimum, given the level of growth of the digital economy in Nigeria.
“Hence, financial services providers should begin to deploy innovative solutions adaptable to the peculiarities of this customer segment,” the group stated.
FSI believes that a social, friendly, and secure financial inclusion solution for MSMEs will enable entrepreneurs in this region to save and invest money, receive monies and make payments digitally, have access to insurance services and funds as working capital and detect fraudulent transactions.
“According to a report from EFInA in 2021, there are more financially excluded people in northern Nigeria than in the southern part. The drawbacks include the concern for safety, access to funds when required, and the cost of financial services.
“The MSMEs, especially the micro sector’s potential for expansion, are under-exploited, given the financing gap, as many of them raise funds through informal means,” it noted.
The Executive Director, FSI, Aituaz Kola-Oladejo, said, “The Nigerian digital economy will flourish when providers of financial services create innovative and inclusive products for MSMEs and retailers. Social and economic problems will also be solved, as they are inter-connected.
“Hence, we decided to partner with FUTMINNA to proffer solutions to these challenges through students who see these challenges daily.”
In October 2021, FSI hosted a hackathon themed ‘#TechonDemand’ to proffer a solution to the dominance of cash transactions within the informal channels in the suburban parts of Nigeria, including university communities.