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CBN, banks’, in aggressive financial inclusion drive with 500,000 agent networks

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has sealed a partnership understanding to collaborate with banks and Mobile Money Operators (MMOs) to deepen Financial Inclusion in Nigeria.

Business Hilights gathered Wednesday that already, about 10 MNOs and super agents will, any moment from now, start deploying financial services agents’ outlets across the country.

Among the ten pre-qualified CBN-licensed operators include Capricorn Digital Limited, Cellulant Nigeria Limited, eTranzact Limited, Innovectives Limited, Inlaks Limited, Interswitch Financial Inclusion Services Limited, Paga Tech Limited and Unified Payments Nigeria Plc.

The new drive become necessary considering the recent report that revealed that more than half of Nigerian adult population is unbanked.

Ten licensed mobile money operators and super agents are expected to deploy financial services agents or outlets immediately in underserved urban and rural areas in Nigeria, with higher priority in the Northern geo-political zones where financial exclusion is most predominant.

The approved CBN–Bankers Committees’ rollout ratio are: North-East 30 per cent; North-West 30 per cent; North-Central 20 per cent; South-South 7.5 per cent; South-East 7.5 per cent; and South-West five per cent.

According to the plan, the CBN and Nigerian banks will over the next few months also roll out new initiatives, products and services to accelerate and deepen financial inclusion in the country.

Key roles of the agents will include renewed focus will be given to driving low cost digital access, broadening financial literacy campaigns, and creating micro loans, micro insurance and micro investment products for the benefit of excluded, underserved and low-income Nigerians.

The body of bank CEOs who unveiled the Shared Agent Network (SAN) plan in deepening financial inclusion in the country, averred that “the initiative involves an aggressive rollout of 500,000 agent network within two years to offer basic financial services, such as cash-in, cash-out, funds transfer, bill payments, 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”.

In his remarks, Chairman of the Body of Bank CEOs, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, who is also the Managing Director/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 two years”.

The body noted in a statement that top attention would be focused on the Northern geo-political zones where financial exclusion is most predominant, stressing that “The approved CBN–Bankers Committees’ roll-out ratio is as follows: North-East 30 per cent; North-West 30 per cent North-Central 20 per cent ; South-South 7.5 per cent; South-East 7.5 per cent and South-West 5 per cent”.

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