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Weak infrastructure’ll derail rollout of 500,000 mobile money agent networks—AMMAN

Key challenge to face recently launched Shared Agent Network (SAN) initiative by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in partnership with commercial banks in driving massive financial inclusion has been identified by the national president, Association of Mobile Money Agents of Nigeria (AMMAN), Victor Olojo.

SAN is a strategic initiative designed to drive rollout of 500,000 agent network within two years with the aim of deepening financial inclusion by offering basic financial services to banked and unbanked Nigerians. 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.

However, in an interview, Olojo averred that “whereas recruiting 500,000 agents across the country within the next two years is not difficult, the key challenge remains the dearth of tailored infrastructure currently facing the business segment which there has been no policy directive to address”.

According to him, “Presently, banks and licensed mobile money operators lack capacity to manager issues arising from network downtime. Web based solutions does not have the capacity to carry out transactions volume of up to 5,000 let alone when 500,000 are brought into the system.

“There must be concrete plans to improve upon available infrastructure to be able to support additional agents into the system. More so, there is knowledge gap in the management of agents by banks officers who does not understand business of informal sector. Over the years, we have noticed that some bank staff lack basic knowledge on digital financial service”.

But to make the entire arrangement to work effectively, AMMAN President called on the apex  bank and money deposit banks first of all, what he called ‘Agent support system’ which will serve as a regulatory window as there is currently no structure of regulation for the agents.

Olojo’s position was further buttressed by Head, Digital banking Services at Fidelity bank, Ms. Ifeoma Onibuja, who acknowledged that managing mobile money agents as well as logistic challenge have been a headache for the banks.

She argued that due to the challenge, some banks had scaled down their mobile money operation focusing on other digital payments.