Indications that poverty level in the country has not abated despite the modest recovery of the economy have emerged with the number of bank customers dropping significantly in 2017 from the depositors’ number in 2016.

Data obtained from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System’s, NIBSS’, showed that the total number of bank customers dropped from 61 million in 2016 to 59 million in 2017.

Similarly, active bank accounts reduced from 65 million in 2016 to 63.5 million accounts last year

However, the NIBSS’ data showed that efforts by the monetary authorities to update bank customers’ data base through the Bank Verification Number, BVN, initiative continued to reflect modest progress in the year under review.

Specifically, the report showed that linked BVN accounts grew from 26 million in 2016, to 41.3 million in 2017.

While the CBN, the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and the Micro Finance Banks (MFBs) have sustained efforts to ensure that the unbanked Nigerians are captured into the financial services market, analysts link the slow integration of more people into the banking system is not unconnected with the high levels of unemployment and poverty in the economy.

For instance, the official statistics by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on the unemployment rate indicated that the rate increased from 14.2% in Q4 2016 to 16.2% in Q2 2017 and 18.8% in Q3 2017.

According to the agency, the number of people within the labor force who are unemployed or underemployed increased from 13.6 million and 17.7 million respectively in Q2 2017, to 15.9 million and 18.0 million in Q3 2017.

Overall, the Bureau puts the total unemployment and underemployment rate as increasing from 37.2% in Q2, 2017 to 40.0% in the succeeding quarter.