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‘How agent banking will drive innovation, inclusion’

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Experts have identified agent banking and Point of Sales (PoS) terminals as major enablers of last-mile access to formal financial services by the unbanked and under-banked population in Nigeria.
    
Over the years, there have been concerted efforts by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), deposit money banks, and other stakeholders in the industry to bring about a drastic reduction in the number of Nigerian adults who cannot access formal financial services.
  
Despite all these efforts, the Financial System Strategy (FSS) 20:2020 has not been met and might not be if innovation and collaboration are undermined, the experts added.

 
Managing Director, ITEX Integrated services, Ernest Udeje, said Nigeria had for a long time been a cash economy, but the electronic payment is gradually evolving.
   
Speaking at a news conference, he added that innovations around agent banking will help the inclusion drive.
    
“The Shared Agent Network Expansion Facility (SANEF) target to create 250,000 agent points by the end of 2019 and another 250,000 by the end of 2020, is underway and realistic,” Udeje said.
   
Driving the initiative, Udeje said ITEX is organising an Agent Banking summit, designed to develop innovative means for sustainable growth and spread of agents in Nigeria.

The summit will include presentations that will translate to a positive impact in the Nigeria payments industry. It will also feature PoS Innovation Hackathon, which is designed to recognise and reward innovation that provides agency services on PoS channels,” he added.
     
According to him, 12 qualified entries were submitted, and three ideas will be unveiled at the Summit and rewarded with cash prizes.
   
“The best idea will be nurtured and adopted by ITEX in collaboration with the idea owner to advance its POS solutions portfolio,” he said.
    
Managing Consultant, Intermac Consulting, Adeyinka Adeyemi, said financial inclusion will raise Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), improve the standard of living of the citizens, and increase per capita income.
   
He added that ITEX had recently secured CBN’s licence to operate as a commercial Super Agent in the nation’s financial services space.
  
“The Super Agents would enable provide basic financial services such as account opening, BVN capture, funds transfer, cash withdrawals, bill payments to the unbanked, particularly in rural areas.

“This super-agent license gives an opportunity to provide financial services on an even larger scale, thus providing financial empowerment to the unbanked and under-banked,” Adeyemi added.

 


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