ISLAMIC BANKING AND FINANCIAL INCLUSION OF WOMEN IN LAGOS
Lagos, the financial hub of Nigeria is home to an estimated 3 million women above the age of 18 years who do not have bank accounts. The Central Bank of Nigeria notes that there are several barriers faced by women in accessing formal bank accounts. Some of these barriers include insufficient mobile money agency networks; lack of national identity means; inadequate digital financial services; untapped opportunities available in microfinance that can serve women and rural people; lack of tailored financial products to meet the needs of the unbanked population; and finally non-digital payments systems, especially G2P and P2G. In addition, reports highlight that a large share of financially excluded women cite religious reasons for not using banks. This study aims to critically investigate the barriers faced by women without bank accounts in Lagos and suggested Islamic banking, an alternative banking institution as a solution. This study will help evaluate the use of Islamic banking tools as a solution to foster financial inclusion for women in Lagos and Nigeria as a whole.
Using a qualitative method, this study surveyed 32 unbanked women in Lagos. The study identified the peculiar barriers to financial inclusion faced by these women who are mainly self-employed and with low levels of education. The barriers to financial inclusion common to women without bank accounts in Lagos are ambiguous account opening documents, lack of acceptable means of identification, long distance of banks and lack of steady source of income. Many of these women also cited religion and marriage as a barrier. This is often reflected in terms of relocation, change of name and switching from formal employment to the cultural home making roles women in this region usually adopt.
The findings of this study provided evidence that unbanked Muslim women in Lagos are aware of Islamic bank’s product offerings and are willing to open account with an Islamic Bank. This agrees with the literature evidence that Islamic finance can improve financial inclusion. However, there are few Islamic bank branches available in Lagos that can solve the long-distance barrier to financial inclusion of these women.
Interestingly, the study discovered that religion is not a significant barrier to financial inclusion of the unbanked women In Lagos, however, religion will play a role in determining their future choice of financial institution.
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