Owenize Odia: Is Nigeria’s Financial System Preventing You From Living Your Best Life?

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They say the best things in life are free and money cannot buy you happiness, but money makes the world go round. School fees will not pay itself and that aso-ebi for your friend’s wedding will not grow on a tree in your backyard. We all want more money than we currently have. That’s just human nature, right? More importantly, we want to hold on to as much of it as possible.

This is why we all spend a lot of time trying to understand money, manage it, preserve it and be creative with how we maximise its use. This is especially true in a country like Nigeria where everything comes at a cost and being financially savvy isn’t something you do as a hobby. It is a necessity if you want to secure what is important to you and your loved ones.

The system is not helping our hustle 

Money is important to Nigerians for a variety of reasons. According to a recent Future of Money report, 69% of Nigerians said money was important to them because it enabled them to secure their family’s well-being. In the same report, Nigerians also said money was important to them because it helped them pay for education (26%), reduce worry and stress (23%), and helped them feel fulfilled (27%). Money is also linked to emotions and the emotion often associated with money in Nigeria is frustration. Only 2 out of 5 (41%) Nigerians thought the value of the Naira will increase in the next 12 months and only one in three (33%) thought the economy was performing well.

Nigeria has many problems – we know that already – but when it comes to technological innovation and economic potential, we are indeed the giant of Africa. We are industrious and exuberant but the financial system is not helping our hustle at all. In fact, the system is tired, out of date and in need of an upgrade.

Nigeria has changed, so should our financial system

The other stark reality we have to contend with is that our current system is based on a model that was created 75 years ago, which has basically remained the same. In the past, money was synonymous with cash and brick-and-mortar banks, but today, our understanding of money and the reality of the world we live in are very different.

When you consider how things have changed over these years, you will see why the system needs a revamp. From the rapid increase in population and changes to the distribution and inequality of wealth, to the rise of the digital economy and other great advances in technology, it just doesn’t make sense that financial services have not changed to keep up with the times.

In this century alone, we have moved from writing letters to writing emails and instant messages. We’ve also moved from landlines to smartphones which are faster, cheaper and more efficient. Why should financial services be any different? Nigerians cannot afford to, and should no longer need to, pay extortionate processing fees, accept currency devaluation or lose out for using or storing their hard-earned money.

Even though the financial system was established by some of the world’s greatest minds, it is clear that countries like Nigeria are struggling with their economy and are not making the most of current technology. We can continue to patch up this 75-year-old system or we can start to realise it can be better. We need to begin to look at how we can upgrade to a better financial system and set ourselves up to truly live our best lives.

The system should work for us. We work too hard for it not to. We should not have to settle for a system that does not make it easier for us to be who we want to be and do what we want to do. If that means adopting a new financial system, then so be it.

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