The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has granted an Approval-in-Principle to Interswitch Financial Inclusion Services (IFIS), a subsidiary of Interswitch Group that has a mandate to grow an active Agent Network of 150,000 by 2020. Trading as Quickteller Paypoint, IFIS aims to increase the availability of digital financial services in financially-excluded locations in Nigeria from 44% to over 70% in five years.
Confirming the development, Divisional CEO, IFIS, Mike Ogbalu commented,
“We are very happy to confirm that CBN has granted the required authorization for us to operate as a Super Agent. This is an ambitious undertaking and with Quickteller Paypoint, we seek to become the largest and most used agent network in Nigeria by YE 2016. This is the beginning of what promises to be a new chapter in Nigerian financial services and our national development as a whole new frontier of commercial activities will be opened up through Quickteller Paypoint.
We want to thank our numerous partners and stakeholders and the CBN for trusting our vision enough to give us the opportunity to unlock the value of agency banking and financial inclusion services in Nigeria. Issues around non-robust agent management platform, poor liquidity management, lack of agent interoperability, low agent value proposition, poor investment in agent branding and support have all been duly identified and would be addressed effectively. The hard work starts now but we are going to relish every moment.”
The nod from the Apex bank is expected to signal new levels of collaboration amongst Nigerian Banks, other financial and non-financial institutions to leverage the reach and product innovation offered by the Quickteller Paypoint network.
This would enable the extension of their services to previously unreached customers via a shared infrastructure. Interswitch deployed a similar model that delivered the successful rollout of ATM technology across Nigeria.
Adopting the Quickteller brand, which currently has over 5000 merchants and services such as funds transfer, airtime recharge and more recently, retail insurance, provides immediate value for the agents who from day one will have a rich bouquet of offerings for customers. Quickteller’s brand strength will also be a major leverage for the agents. To this extent, Quickteller Paypoint checks all the keys to agent success which include content, strong brand awareness and user-friendly agent interfaces.
In December 2015, IFIS was introduced to Nigerian e-business personalities at the 2015 Committee Of E-Business Heads Conference, which held in Uyo, and it will be recalled that Head of e-Banking, Fidelity Bank, Adedeji Olowe had this to say;
“If there is a Nigerian organization capable of taking this on, it’s Interswitch. Just like they have been able to do with switching and linking the banks, I expect them to be able to make this work.”
Interswitch has been known since its launch in 2002 to be one of the strongest proponents of the attainment of a truly cashless society and has been known to push the boundaries of technology in achieving this. The company in 2014 was listed by Deloitte as the fastest growing tech company in Africa with a year-on-year growth rate of over 1500%.
Interswitch has also made considerable inroads into the East African market with the acquisition of Paynet Kenya alongside a strategic partnership with KCB Bank across several East African countries.