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Financial inclusion agents groan as SANEF fails to achieve interoperability

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Ronke Kuye

Two months after, financial inclusion agents under the network of Shared Agent Network Expansion Facility, SANEFare yet to enjoy interoperability promised them, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek checks reveals.

It would be recalled that Ronke Kuye, managing director, Shared Agent Network Expansion Facility, SANEF, disclosed in October last year atInlaks digital summit that they will achieve interoperability by November last year. She said that interoperability has posed a major challenge for agents under the SANEF programme as agents are unable to open any bank account for customers from one unit.
“By November (last year) banking agents under SANEF programme will begin to open accounts and make transactions in all the banks from a single unit. By then we would have achieved interoperability,” she said.

However, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek investigations revealed that as at this week that feet has not been achieve as financial inclusion agents visited still can’t transact on different bank from one source.
Fasasi Sarafadeen Atanda, managing director, Ecosystem Hybrid Network – a financial inclusion agent, who spoke to usdescribed interoperability as open banking that allows customers at agent banking location to be able to access banking facility of any of their choice of brand bank at a single agent unit.

“Achieving interoperability at agency banking level is something that has to involve a lot of technology integration before they can achieve that as it is now it is still individual agents opening account on individual banks. For instance, if I want to open for twenty banks, I will have to be enrolled as agent by all the twenty banks. I have to be logging out out from one portal to another.

That is the situation we are in as at today,” he said.
“As it is today, the major challenge we have is actually interoperability because some banks are not allowing inflow of transactions from banks they don’t have good relationship with or they don’t have good perception about.

“They see it as competition and prevent instant inflow of transactions from such banks to their bank. Also interms of wallets, today you cannot move money from Paga to Firstmonie or from Opay to Firstmonie. CBN and SANEF need to intervene for banks and wallets to see themselves as partners not competitors for us to deepen financial inclusion in its real sense.

“However, some of these things happening in the field, CBN and SANEF may not be aware; some of these issues I have highlighted may be deliberate for business sense and may also not be deliberate because of technology.

“Because there are no standard set for digital banking in Nigeria, some banks are not supposed to be playing in digital banking space because the level of their technological deployment cannot accommodate huge instant transactions to their bank.
Moreover, if we have to achieve full interoperability, there is needed to set standard for technology deployed by banks, super agents and mobile money operators,” he said.

According to Victor Olojo, National President, Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents of Nigeria (AMMBAN), “Financial inclusion should enable people irrespective of whatever financial institution they are operating. It means, if I have a Paga wallet I should be able to send money from my Paga wallet to Quickteller or PocketMoney wallet. Presently, this is not happening. What we have in the market place today is using different point of sale terminals for different banks, in that regard, I ‘m using 10 PoS for 10 banks. The ideal situation should be one PoS from Bank A should be able to attend to customers from nine other banks.

“That will solve the problem and the money I spent in buying the other nine PoS for other banks could be invested in the business.

Imagine investing N900,000 in other areas of my mobile money business that will assist in driving financial inclusion. If interoperability issue is resolved, it means a problem of financial inclusion would have been adequately addressed”.


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AMMBANRonke KuyeSANEF
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