NIGERIA :'Telecoms' Penetration in Cashless Economy, Indictment to Banks

By Emma Okonji

The Group Managing Director of Access Bank, Mr. Herbert Wigwe has said the heavy presence and deep penetration of telecommunications in driving the cashless initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), is an indictment to all banks in the country.
According to him, it became an indictment to banks, because banking existed before telecommunications, yet telecommunications have overtaking banking operations both in the depth of market penetration and innovation, such that today, Nigeria is celebrating telecoms revolution that has opened vista of digital opportunities to both government and her citizens.

"Banking existed before telecommunications, looking at the likes of African Banking Corporation and the First Bank of Nigeria, yet telecommunications have overtaken banking in terms of numbers," Wigwe said during the launch of a new banking solution that will further drive financial inclusion, and create financial access to both the banked and unbanked.
"Access Bank is thinking out of the box and has come up with a solution that will change the game and give banking a major boost," Wigwe added.

The solution called, 'Access Money Powered By Airtel', is a product of the collaboration between Access Bank and Airtel, to drive mobile money in Nigeria and to deepen financial inclusion. It is a solution the offers a service designed to bring more people on board and to get more bank customers, without the customers visiting the bank.

Explaining how the solution works, Wigwe said, customers would dial *903# on the Airtel network, using their mobile phones, and follow the instructions and get registered for the Access Mobile Money.
He said the bank found a reliable telecoms partner in Airtel, hence the collaboration.

Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Segun Ogunsanya said, although the product is an initiative of Access Bank, the bank chose to use the Airtel platform in driving the initiative and in providing the technology platform and technical expertise that will further enhance the deployment of the solution.

"We want to take banking to every Nigerian, since banking is not meant for only a class of people in the society. Through the solution, we are bringing financial services to both the banked and unbanked in the country. The solution will bring flexibility and convenience to customers who will be able to use their mobile phones to do all kinds of financial transactions, and to also send and receive money, via their mobile phone, through a network of agents that will be positioned across the country," Ogunsanya said.

With the mobile phone, Nigerians can now withdraw money from the ATM, without using the ATM cards, Ogunsanya added.
The Airtel boss further explained that the telecoms company currently has 43 Airtel controlled outlets, 900 agent-controlled outlets, with plans to scale up the number of agent-controlled outlets to 10,000 by the end of 2015.