NIGERIA: Mobile money agents seek PoS agents registration review

The Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents of Nigeria (AMMBAN) has urged the Federal Government to review the directive given to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) mandating all Point of Sale (PoS) agents to register with it.

The group said the development was capable of further depleting its members which had lost n fewer than 1.5 million jobs in the last one year.

Speaking at a press conference in Lagos, its President, Fasasi Atanda, said there are over 3.7 million PoS in circulation as of today, but the service providers were only able to deploy 2.7 million leaving the gap of 1million PoS amounting to a loss of 1million jobs in the country.

He said the reason tendered by the CAC that the registration was to curb crime in the fintech space was not tenable, insisting that it was driven by revenue.

Represented by National General Secretary, Oluwasegun Elegbede, the president said: “AMMBAN strongly disagrees with the recent directive by the CAC that all PoS agents must register with it, regardless of their status as individuals or non-individuals. We believe this directive is unnecessary, contradictory to existing laws, and amounts to a mere revenue generation move to further tax hapless Nigerians.

“We disagree with CAC’s claim that it wants to fight crimes in the agency banking business space through registration. We believe that the kind of crimes in the space are both human and technical which CAC registration cannot fight.”

Referring to Section 18 (1) of CAMA which states that “A person may apply to the commission for the registration of a company” and section 22(1) states that “A company shall be deemed to be a separate legal entity from its members,” the group insisted that what this means is that individuals and non-individuals (companies) have different legal statuses and requirements. Moreover, the CBN Policy on Financial Inclusion and development states that “agency banking services shall be provided by agents who are individuals or non-individuals (companies) registered with the CBN (Section 2.1).

The group disclosed that the policy clearly recognized the distinction between individuals and non-individuals and does not require individuals to register with CAC.

The group said it has made and is still making spirited efforts in combating the issue of crimes within their business space, and condemned the insistence of CAC to deploy the police to execute the directive against those who fail to register their business by July 7.

While denying allegation credited to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that its members were colluding with bank staff to hoard cash or engage in buying and selling of cash, said the allegation was misleading, adding that it is damaging to the reputation of their members who are law-abiding citizens. “Our association finds it criminal for anyone to buy and sell cash, as our role is to bring succour to the general populace at a very convenient cost to serve,” the group said, urging the Commission to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.

AMMBAN also categorically denied allegation that its members are responsible for scarcity of cash, adding that its members are also facing similar challenge because their agents are not given any preferences in accessing cash from the bank. “It has been a long standing demand that the CBN categorize agencies into different tiers to enable them to have access to cash, rather than seeing them as individuals with a limit of N500,000. This will help to address the current cash scarcity and promote financial inclusion,” the group said.

It further rejected the CBN’s policy limiting multiple accounts/wallets to two, adding that the policy has crashed the agent network category and is an attack on financial inclusion. “We urge everyone to work together to promote financial inclusion and economic growth, rather than engaging in activities that can undermine the progress made so far,” the group said.

Atanda said members have lost millions of jobs due to inconsistent policies in the fintech space. “People are asking us why are we taking this step, we are taking this step to save millions of jobs in Nigeria, because it is not just about PoS, it is actually beyond PoS.

“We know the implications of most of these policies that are not well thought-out and their impacts on the economy generally. As of today since the beginning of the cashless policy and the cash redesign policies last year, to the level of NIN (National Identity Number) and BVN (Bank Verification Number) linkage and then the recent policies of asking all agents to go and register with CAC, and lots of policies being dished out to providers internally via internal memo, such as restriction on how many accounts an agent can have, all these policies have led to the loss of over 1.5 million jobs in the last one year,” Atanda said.

He said there are over 3.7 million PoS in circulation as of today, but the service providers were only able to deploy 2.7 million leaving the gap of 1million PoS amounting to a loss of 1million jobs in Nigeria.

“Also agents that are utilizing fintech solutions, they are utilizing mobile apps, they are utilizing websites, they are also exploring digital and fintech solutions, that space alone is employing hundreds of jobs, in the form of app developers, UI, US Engineers and all others in that space, we have lost cumulatively 200,000 jobs,” he said.

He also stated that the aggregators were not left out in the policy summersaults. “For aggregators, we have about 217 registered fintech companies in Nigeria and most of them are adopting the strategy of aggregators. Who are the aggregators or who are the agent network? They are the people that are stepping down all the services of financial institutions. You have aggregators that are helping providers to deploy and manage US terminals and each and every one of these 217 registered fintech have a minimum of a 1000 aggregators. So when you multiply a thousand with at least 200 out of the 217, you can see the number of jobs that have been lost through that,” he said, adding that Nigeria has lost a lot of foreign direct investment (FDI).