By Tunde Osho
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), deposit money banks, licensed mobile money operators and super agents announced on Tuesday that they have reached an agreement to fund the expansion of a shared agent network to deepen financial inclusion in Nigeria as well as job creation in Nigeria.
It was gathered the CBN, Nigerian banks, mobile money operators and super agents agree to roll-out a 500,000 shared agents network to accelerate financial inclusion in Nigeria.
The agreement entails an aggressive rollout of a 500,000 agent network to offer basic financial services, such as cash-in, cash-out, fund transfer, bill payments, airtime purchase, government disbursements as well as remote enrolment on BMS infrastructure (BVN) to an estimated 50 million Nigerians that are currently under-banked or unbanked.
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. The approved CBN-Bankers committees’ roll out ratio is as follows: North-east 30%, North-west 30%, north-central 20%; south-south 7.5%, south-east 7.5%, and south-west 5%. 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.
According to the plan, 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 enrol 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.
Commenting on the shared agent network expansion program, the chairman of the body of bank CEOs, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, CEO of Access Bank Plc said; “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.”
Commenting on behalf of the mobile money operators, Tayo Oviosu, founder and CEO of Paga, 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.”