A nation’s level of development directly correlates with how inclusive its financial services are. Therefore, it is imperative that a nation attains higher levels of its financial inclusion to achieve advancement. Over the years, countries have made significant strides in economic growth and development. The efforts notwithstanding, significant populations remain unbanked or underbanked, a situation that begs for urgent intervention.
As nations mull over how to remedy the case, a practical solution presents itself in Apollo Fintech’s National Payment Platform. This article discusses how governments may leverage the NPP to expand financial access to their people.
Apollo National Payment Platform
The Apollo National Payments Platform is a blockchain-based cashless system of transactions that allows a country to issue a sovereign digital currency (CBDC). On issuance of the CBDC, the Central Bank will onboard commercial banks and other financial institutions. These then sign up merchants and customers for transactions. It enables the transition to entirely cashless settlements. Moreover, the platform increases the access of financial services to those yet unserved.
Attaining Financial Inclusion Through Apollo NPP
The NPP will attain financial inclusion in the following ways.
Digitizing The Local Currency
The NPP allows the country to go cashless through the adoption of sovereign digital currencies. The CBDC s remove the inefficiencies of fiat money that hinder access. They will achieve this in the following ways:
Eliminating the Need for Bank Accounts
It is easier to avail funds digitally than in physical form. CBDCs can transform the financial system to one which is accessible to the unbanked and underbanked. The Central Bank issues them directly to the citizens without requiring them to have bank accounts. The system works by directly linking individuals to the central bank core ledger. To transact, they use digital wallets linked to their CBDC account.
Ensuring Efficiencies in Currency Distribution
Inefficiencies in distributing fiat currency hinder access to financial services. Printing and maintenance of physical bills are expensive, therefore impacts their distribution. Additionally, practices like hoarding of money further affect its supply. Fortunately, digital currencies eliminate both challenges and are easily transferable, enhancing their access.
Allowing Low-Cost transactions
Through the NPP, the CBDC will allow for minute payments popular with the low-income segment that form most unbanked populations. Low fees, coupled with the efficiency of transactions, the digital currency will incentivize the uptake of financial services among the unbanked.
Facilitating Remote Registration
Proximity to financial services impacts their uptake. At times financial services are situated in inaccessible areas preventing them from full utilization by everyone. The NPP seeks to alleviate this problem by allowing remote user sign-ups through the internet. As long as someone has access to the internet, they can sign up for banking services whenever and wherever they are. This accessibility cuts the need to travel long distances in search of such services.
Lowering Transaction Costs
The NPP runs on the Apollo Blockchain. Consequently, it eliminates intermediaries from transactions saving users the transactional fees charged by these third parties. Therefore, the peer to peer transactions lowers the cost of doing business, encouraging the uptake of financial services.
Moreover, the removal of intermediaries hastens the pace of transactions, since the exchange is P2P, the parties conclude trades faster.
Establishing A Grassroots Presence
As stated earlier, distance affects access to financial services. Despite an expansion in financial service offerings, many regions remain unserved. This situation is true to those considered remote and rural. Financial access for residents of such areas remains a mirage.
To mitigate this situation, NPP adopts an agency model. Bank and other government-approved agents will establish physical presence all over the country. This way, financial services are brought to the customers’ doorsteps. The agents save the customers time and effort that they would otherwise have expended in seeking those services.
A mobile phone is a ubiquitous tool. A good percent of the world’s adult population owns a mobile device. Ironically, a significant number of these mobile phone owners remain unbanked. Mobile technology offers an opportunity to tap this segment of the population. The NPP will pursue financial inclusiveness via mobile phones as follows:
Texting to Pay
Affordability is a crucial factor in attaining financial inclusion. As stated earlier, exorbitant costs prevent access. The NPP makes it possible For Mobile Network Operators to offer USSD based financial services to their customers.
All one needs is a simple feature phone which is affordable to many. The NPP hasn’t only simplified access to those services but also cut the cost of their acquisition.
Mobile wallets bring banking to an individual’s palms. From account opening to depositing and withdrawing funds, a person can enjoy all the services they would at their local bank branch. They may also pay for goods and services and send money to their peers.
QR Code Payments
These payments are enabled by scanning a QR code. By supporting QR code payments, Apollo’s National Payment Platform will increase the penetration of financial services. QR codes tokenize payment information, making transactions seamless.
These payments are affordable because they eliminate the fees charged on using bank cards. They also remove the need to carry physical cash or bank cards. Additionally, they are instantaneous.
Employing Contactless Top-Up Cards
Another way the NPP will enhance access is by distributing NFC top-up cards. These will be available from retailers fanning the country. Using them, one can deposit and withdraw funds and perform checkouts conveniently. Another plus of the NFC cards is that they are inherently frictionless, ensuring convenient checkouts. Adopting a retail option to their distribution enhances entry into financial services.
Expediting Inter-bank Transactions
The NPP integrates with other Apollo FinTech Products. For instance, it integrates with the Apollo Bank Network, a platform that allows interbank linkages regardless of their geographical situation. The network affords users unlimited bank to bank transactions in two seconds. Additionally, one may carry out those transactions in any local or foreign currency.
Ensuring Security of transactions
Traditional payment methods are fraught with security concerns. The possibility of confidential payment information leaking is real. Also, carrying physical cash could pose security challenges to bearers. These and other misgivings about the safety of fiat currencies make a case for digital ones.
As the Apollo NPP allows the rollout of CBDCs, it will inadvertently increase access to financial services. The CBDCs adopt tokenization as a security feature. This way, sensitive payment information is protected, and one need not worry that the money they carry is visible to others. Therefore, many people will feel encouraged to take up these secure financial services.
Economic progression is a product of how inclusive a nation’s financial services are. Countrywide financial inclusion enables settlements, savings, and ultimately investments. In turn, investments spur the growth and development of a nation. However, despite advances in availing financial services to the masses, significant populations remain unserved. Countries are struggling with solutions to this challenge. Fortunately, the Apollo National Payment Platform offers a ready answer to the problem. The concept behind it, coupled with the adoption of CBDCs, will open doors for roping in the unbanked.