Samuel Oladimeji is the Managing Director of Accelerex Network Limited, one of the leading companies playing in the Agent Banking space. He explained why Agent Banking has been more successful than the core mobile money. Excerpt.
Mobile Money is still confused with Mobile Banking, what do you think is responsible for this?
They are different but in recent times, people relate more to mobile banking because Agent Banking has been more successful than the core mobile money. For Mobile Money to work in its pure sense, people have to be able to open accounts and hold mobile wallets on their mobile phones using their SIM. Then these wallets should be able to send money to other registered SIMS, perform deposit transactions and effect withdrawals even without POS (Cash in, Cash out). However, this is not yet popular in Nigeria as interoperability, critical towards the adoption and scaling of mobile money never saw the light of the day. However, Mobile Banking as the name implies alludes to the ability to perform banking transactions and access related services from mobile gadgets. This mobile banking systems and related platforms became the underpinning infrastructure for agent banking.
There is a lot of expectations on Fintech and their delivery channels like Agents, what makes yours better than others?
A lot of people have been doing outstanding work in the industry and we have had some behemoths totally disrupt the space in the last couple of years. However, we offer one of the smoothest onboarding experience, we deploy using the fastest turnaround time, actively resolve dispute, manage our relationships with Agents and Partners with a lot of finesse and deliberately segment our market for utmost impacts. We also boast some of the most brilliant minds in FinTech wielding both knowledge and practical understanding of what is needed to successfully deploy cutting-edge fintech solutions through agent networks and to consistently update same to stay relevant. In one year of business, we have started processing an average monthly volume of N9bn and have more than 6000 agents in 21 states of the country. We are sure that we have what it takes to get it to the last mile.
What is Unique about your product?
Our unique value proposition is as always the POS deployment. Using ANP, we have been able to create a one-stop shop for agent banking services and we are now able to ensure that starting an agent business is seamless. Furthermore, our platform is secure and has the most robust accounting system in the industry ensuring that the agents accounting is without stress. The users of our platform can testify to these submissions.
What do you want to achieve?
We want to be the manager of the most active agent network and the most profitable for agents. For us, it is always about the agents and that is what we do when we price our products, when we resolve issues, when we engage with partners and this goal informs our day to day decisions. If our agents are profitable, it simply follows that the organization will come to be identified as one that adds value.
A lot of rave has been made about Digital Credit in Fintech, is Accelerex network working on this?
Digital credit is a fascinating prospect in FinTech. In fact it is so fascinating that every startup or even established businesses are looking to delve into the area. It is a massive market. For Accelerex, of course we are looking at this conscientiously. We have done a pilot and have been able to properly dimension the demand. It is important to state here that we are not licensed to give loans, however, as agents of commercial banks and other microfinance banks, we are able to leverage these platforms to extend credits digitally to our agents through integrations. By the end of the year, we will definitely be having conversations around how successful it had been and the lessons we have learnt. From Accelerex, it is one of the things we want to do.
What are your thoughts on the new finance bill implemented by the government and the new CBN Pricing policy?
I believe that businesses like ours were affected the most especially as we deal directly with agents who respond almost immediately with regards to the slightest changes in policies. Dynamics like stamp duty, downward review of prices affects the market and puts pressure on businesses. However, this is very good for the end consumer. At Accelerex Network, we are always concentrated on compliance with laws and regulations because we have to do business in Nigeria too. So our language here is to comply first while we continue to engage stakeholders to ensure that we are able to sustain our business.
Research often show that illiteracy is a drawback on the adoption of Agent Banking, how does Accelerex Network circumvent this?
We started with acknowledging the problem. Like you pointed out in the question, communicating value requires a certain level of understanding. Right now, we have come to understand that the people that can clearly communicate this value to the base of the pyramid are the ones that are from there. This has informed our utilization of a refined aggregator model that has proven successful as a business development model. Using this
model, we are able to close the communication gap and ensure that value is communicated using the language that the customer understands and at his comfort zone. We do this through advocacy, sensitization, aggregator model
and sometimes direct selling. So far, we can boast of having one of the robust agent network at the last mile.
How secured is fintech and how are you dealing with cybercrime?
No system is 100% safe. Once in a while, vulnerabilities might appear in systems but it takes responsive organizations to anticipate this and respond appropriately. In this regard, we have enjoyed the support of Global Accelerex whose ANP (Agent Network Platform) we have rented for this purpose. I can say that it is the most secure platform and this can easily be confirmed by the agents.