The Central Bank of Nigeria has asked operators of microfinance banks and other financial institutions in the country not to engage in exploitative activities.
The CBN said this could be achieved by obtaining necessary certifications before commencing operations.
The Head of Consumer Protection Department, CBN, Umma Dutse, said this during the ceremony for Smart Campaign Certification Award in Lagos to Grooming Centre, Ejigbo and Fortis Microfinance Bank.
During a panel discussion on ‘State of consumer protection in financial inclusion,’ she explained that obtaining certification was also in the interest of their existence and international standard.
Dutse, after the presentation of the award to the Chief Executive Officer, Grooming Centre, Dr. Godwin Nwabunka, urged other practitioners across the country to desist from illegal operations.
She said, “Nigerian financial system is undergoing some transformation, and consumer protection is a burning issue. We have a mandate to ensure protection of clients as well as protect them from exploitation from service providers, as anything contrary will affect our financial inclusion drive. We want operators to exhibit high customer-centric management.
“Other practitioners should work towards ensuring that they get certified, as the CBN wants to see more of this certifications.”
She described Nigeria as a dynamic market for microfinance, saying awareness on client protection was on the rise.
The Vice President, Centre for Financial Inclusion and Director, Smart Campaign, Isabelle Barres, noted that there was the need for exceptional consumer protection services.
She noted that measures must be put in place to ensure that vulnerable clients of financial institutions around the world were protected.
“Ours is to advocate strong consumer protection services in Nigeria. Clients have the right to be treated fairly by the institutions they work with and should feel proud to bank with Smart Campaign-certified institutions, knowing that they are doing everything in their control to protect them and inform them of their rights and responsibilities,” she added.
On his part, Nwabunka said the commitment of the Grooming Centre to social change and regular exposure of staff to global best practices earned them the award.
He said, “For us, the certification came as a natural course; we put clients at the centre of what we do. We are committed to empowering the womenfolk with financial education to be good managers in their endeavours, considering the role of women in families and nation building.
“It is an opportunity to improve what we are doing on operational level and in the sector. It’s been a greater opportunity even with our international partners.”