By Emmanuel Elebeke
Over 37 per cent of Nigerians, mostly in the rural areas, are said to be excluded from the formal banking sector. It is also estimated that only 60.5 per cent of adult population in Nigeria have access to financial services. The main reason for this is that it is not cost effective for banks to go to rural areas. For this reason, 40 per cent of bank branches are based in Lagos and the rest in other cities.
Before now, agency banking was introduced by CBN and the initiative was targeted at bridging the gap between the rich and the poor.
Incidentally, most developing economies, including Nigeria, have most of their adults living in areas where there is no access to banking services. To bridge this gap, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN in 2012, came up with the policy of financial inclusion in partnership with the Nigerian Postal Service, Nipost, targeting 80 per cent financial inclusion by 2050.
In realisation of this strategy, Nipost and Fidelity Bank Plc last weekend launched an Agency Banking Partnership, themed: Unifying Agency banking and TSA Collections on a single platform.
The idea is to put Nipost’s massive infrastructure, over 1,800 outlets, 70 per cent of which are in rural areas across the country, into use for banking services, especially in the rural areas and places banks cannot go.
With the launch of Agency banking partnership between Nipost and Fidelity Bank, it will enable every bank customer access banking services irrespective of the location.
The initiative has a chain of stakeholders involved. The bank provides the physical services to the customer, while Global Accelerate provides the technology that drives it. There are also other partners who provide the POS and other devices.
On the other hand, Treeline is providing the agent banking platform for Nipost, in addition to the internet services by service providers.
The service will be able to do both agency banking and POS services to make life easier for customers.
The Divisional Head, Retail Banking, Fidelity Bank, Richard Maduebo, said the services are going to be backed up with lots of advocacy.
Speaking on CBN’s role, Mr. Pivy Ambore of CBN Financial Inclusion Secretariat, said in recognition of the need to bridge the financial gap in the unbanked areas, the apex bank is providing the level playing field for everyone that has capability to come in and provide financial service. It also encourages operators to collaborate and compete.