BY BUSINESS TODAY REPORTER——Poised to deepen financial inclusion and create more jobs for Nigerians, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in conjunction with Nigerian Banks, Mobile Money Operators, and Super Agents has concluded plans to roll-out a 500,000 Shared Agent Network in Nigeria within two years.
Speaking at a media briefing to unveil the plan Herbert Wigwe, chairman of the body of bank CEOs and CEO of Access Bank Plc said the agreement entails an aggressive rollout of a 500,000 agent network to offer basic financial services.
” Financial inclusion is about increasing access to a broad range of financial services such as payments, savings, remittances, Insurance, pensions and freight; all at affordable cost, it’s central to the growth and sustainable development of any nation because of the direct link to enhance access to finance, to improve income, poverty reduction and a stable financial system.”
He added that ten licensed 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 to the northern geo-political zones where financial exclusion is most predominant.
He explained further that the approved CBN-Bankers committees’ roll out ratio will be as follows North-east 30 percent, North-west 30 percent, north-central 20 percent; south-south 7.5 percent, south-east 7.5 percent, and south-west 5 percent.
Some of the pre-qualified CBN licensed operators include Capricorn digital limited, Cellulant Nigeria limited, eTranzact limited, Innovectives limited, interswitch, financial inclusion service limited, Inlaks limited, Paga Tech limited and unified payments Nigeria Plc.
The CBN and deposit money banks will over the new few months also rollout new initiatives, products and services to accelerate and deepen financial inclusion in Nigeria. Over the next few years, Nigerian banks aim to on-board 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 of digital access, broadening financial literacy campaigns, and creating micro insurance and micro investment products for the benefit of the excluded, underserved and low income Nigerians.
“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 few years,” Wigwe, CEO of Access Bank said.
“To significantly grow financial inclusion in Nigeria we need to offer truly effective digital financial services that operate on all mobile telecom networks and a robust nationwide network of agents for convenient access. The share agent network expansion program supports our plans to rapidly scale up the agent network over the next year. With this expansion program, the entire financial industry will reach deeper into even more communities and give millions of Nigerians convenient access to financial services,” Tayo Oviosu, founder and CEO of Paga said while commenting on behalf of the mobile money operators.
Speaking further Kennedy Uzoka, CEO of United Bank for Africa Plc said those who will come into the network based on the extended infrastructure to be provided by the Banks will have access to loans , ” We are bringing the whole full banking services to individuals that are excluded from the banking system, is not just about loans, its the entire thing that you will get from the bank that you visit in each of the centres, so be rest assured that people who would come to the network based on the extended infrastructure that we have provided will have access to banking loans,” Uzoka added.
Segun Agbaje, CEO of GTBank said the difference between the shared Agent Network plan and others previously rolled out is that this is led by the private sector and the Banks and not a government initiative.
The project according to him currently is not for profit; but to bring people into the financial system and the funds being used is already set aside out of the profit the Banks have made, ” this is not an initiative being driven by profit; this is an initiative that is essential for Nigeria and bring people to the financial system.”
These basic financial services expected to be met include account opening, BVN enrollment, cash deposit, cash withdrawal, funds transfer and bills payment. Others are airtime purchase, government disbursements as well as remote enrollment on BMS infrastructure (BVN) to an estimated 50 million Nigerians that are currently under-banked or unbanked.
This plan will also see the CBN and deposit money banks over the new few months rollout new initiatives, products and services to accelerate and deepen financial inclusion in Nigeria.
Its expected that over the next few years, Nigerian banks will on-board 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 of digital access, broadening financial literacy campaigns, and creating micro insurance and micro investment products for the benefit of the excluded, underserved and low income Nigerians.