Exploring Regional Disparities in Bank Account Ownership in Nigeria

Nigerian Bank District in the Background. Credit: Namnso Ukpanah

Imagine a world where access to basic financial services is limited, where people struggle to save their hard-earned money and access loans when they need it. This is the reality for millions of Nigerians who lack access to bank accounts, and it’s a reality that has far-reaching consequences. In this blog post, we will delve into the ownership of bank accounts in Nigeria, exploring the reasons behind the low adoption rate and the implications this has for individuals and the economy as a whole. We will also discuss the steps that need to be taken to improve access to banking services and empower more Nigerians to take control of their financial futures."

In Nigeria, despite the large population of over 200 million people, bank account ownership remains low, with only 41.3% of the population having access to a bank account according to data from the 2021 MICS Report. This is a significant challenge, as access to financial services plays a critical role in driving economic growth and reducing poverty. The low adoption rate of bank accounts can be attributed to several factors, including the lack of access to banks in some rural areas, high costs of reaching the nearest bank, low income levels, lack of trust in banks, and more.


The low rate of bank account ownership in Nigeria has far-reaching consequences, both for individuals and the economy as a whole. Without access to bank accounts, individuals are unable to save their money, access loans, and take advantage of other financial services. This can lead to financial insecurity and increased poverty. It also means that the economy is unable to grow, as businesses struggle to access credit and other financial services, limiting their ability to invest and create jobs.

According to the data, while 62.6% of urban residents have a bank account, this figure drops to just 17.4% for those living in rural areas. Similarly, the highest rates of bank account ownership are seen in the South East (65.2%) and South West (60.4%) regions, compared to much lower rates in the North East (24.9%) and North West (20.1%) regions.

When it comes to gender, men are more likely to have a bank account than women, with 47.2% of men owning a bank account compared to 35.4% of women. However, this disparity is not consistent across all regions. For example, in the South South region, 54.4% of both men and women have a bank account.

At the state level, there is also significant variation, with Lagos recording the highest rate of bank account ownership (82.8%), while Bauchi (13.4%) and Katsina (14.6%) have the lowest rates.