The Central Bank of Nigeria has increased the capital requirements for micro-finance banks in the country in a bid to tackle the challenge of inadequate capital base in the sub-sector.
The CBN announced the upward review of the minimum capital requirement in a circular dated October 22, 2018 to all micro-finance banks in the country.
The minimum capital requirement for unit and state micro-finance banks was raised by 900 per cent each to N200m and N1bn, respectively from N20m and N100m, while that of national micro-finance banks increased by 150 per cent to N5bn from N2bn.
ed the minimum capital requirement in exercise of the powers conferred on it by the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act and in furtherance of its mandate to promote a sound financial system in the country.
He noted that given the role of micro-finance banks in economic growth and development, the Micro-finance Policy, Regulatory and Supervisory Framework was introduced on December 15, 2005 and revised in 2011.
Amugo stated that the key focus of the policy was, among others, to increase financial inclusion rate in the country, improve access to financial services for the active rural poor, and pursue poverty eradication.
According to him, the micro-finance banking sub-sector, in pursuit of the above objectives, has been contending with such challenges as inadequate capital base, weak corporate governance, ineffective risk management practices, dearth of requisite capacity and mission drift.
He said, “The CBN has reviewed the state of health of the sub-sector and is of the view that micro-finance banks, as presently constituted, would be unable to meet the critical targets set out in the Micro-finance Policy, hence the need for specific reforms to strengthen the sub-sector and re position micro-finance banks towards improved performance.
“To meet these requirements, existing micro-finance banks are expected to explore the possibility of mergers and acquisitions and/or direct injection of funds. The Revised Regulatory and Supervisory Guidelines for Micro-finance Banks, Code of Corporate Governance for Micro-finance Banks and sector-specific Prudential Guidelines for Micro-finance Banks would be issued in due course.”
According to the circular, institutions that meet the capital requirements as well as demonstrate the existence of strong corporate governance in their operations will be allowed to open account at the CBN office within their state of operation.
Amugo said such institutions would also be channels for micro funding activities of the CBN and the Development Bank of Nigeria.