NIGERIA:Commercial banks to engage 500,000 agents for shared network
Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), in conjuction with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Licensed Mobile Money Operators and super agents announced last week that they have reached an agreement to fund the expansion of a Shared Agent Network.
This initiative involves aggressive rollout of a 500,000 agent network to offer basic financial services. The DMBs he said, will give more Nigerians access to financial services and generate over 500,000 new jobs over the next two years.
According to the Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, who is the chairman of the body of Bank Chief Executive Officers, Mr Herbert Wigwe, the agreement covers such services that will be rendered to an estimated 50 million Nigerians currently under banked or unbanked include: cash-in, cash-out, funds transfer, bill payment, airtime purchase, government disbursements, as well as remote enrollment on BMS infrastructure for Bank Verification Number.
His words: “this agreement reflects our commitment to aggressively pursue the CBN 2020 Financial inclusion target in an integrated way with minimal systemic risk to the financial system. This initiative will also generate over 500,000 new Jobs over the next two years. What this scheme will do is that it will also help the small and medium scale enterprises access loans at single digit interest rate.”
The plan entails that, the CBN and Deposit Money Banks will over the next few months also roll out new initiatives, products and services to accelerate and deepen financial inclusion in Nigeria.
“Over the next three years, Nigerian banks aim to onboard and formally bank 60 million additional Nigerians, an average of 20 million yearly, as well as enroll 40 million Nigerians for BVN.
“To this end, renewed focus will be given to driving low cost digital access, broadening financial literacy campaigns, and creating micro loans, micro insurance and micro investment products for the benefit of excluded, underserved and low income Nigerians,” he stated.
According to the body, 10 mobile money operators and super agents are expected to immediately deploy financial services agents’ outlets in underserved urban and rural areas in Nigeria, with higher priority in the Northern geopolitical zones where financial exclusion is high.
The approved CBN-Bankers Committee’ roll- out ratio is as follows: North-East 30 per cent; North-West 30 per cent; North- central 20 per cent; South-South 7.5 per cent; South-East 7.5 per cent and South-West 5 per cent.
Also speaking, Managing Director, Guaranty Trust Bank, Mr Segun Agbaje said, the difference between this initiative and the others is that this is being led by the banks themselves. It is not government-led and the banks are known to always drive to the end, any initiative they embark upon.
While calling on participants and the general public to challenge and monitor the body of bank CEOs to ensure “we deliver on our promises,” Agbaje said the whole objective is to bring more people into the financial system.
He added that the money being used to drive the program is the money which banks have already set aside from their profits.
The body clarified that some of the prequalified CBN Licensed operators include: Capricorn Digital Limited, Cellulant Nigeria Limited, eTransact Limited, Innovectives Limited, Inlaka Limited, Interswitch Financial Inclusion Services Limited, Paga Tech Limited and Unified Payments Nigeria Plc.
Agent banking is the provision of financial services to customers by a third party (agent) on behalf of a licensed deposit taking financial institution and/or mobile money operator (principal).
The agent banks receive cash deposit and withdrawal, carry out bills payment (utilities, taxes, tenement rates, subscription etc.), payment of salaries, funds transfer services (local money value transfer), balance enquiry, generation and issuance of mini statement, collection and submission of account opening and other related documentation among others.