Financial inclusion agents saddled with the responsibility of offering banking services to unbanked especially those in the rural areas where banks are not in sight, have identified poor mobile network connectivity and super agents roll out of advanced technology devices as major challenges of their efforts, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek can now reveal.
Fasasi Sarafadeen Atanda, managing director, ECOSA Hybrid Network, operators’ of banking agents in several rural areas across the country told newsmen that technologically related hiccups in their operations do affect them.
According to him, ‘there is inherent challenge of mobile network availability in rural areas for our banking transactions. We use point of sale terminal for our transaction which requires mobile network connectivity for it to work but as a result of poor network connectivity some of our transactions fail which lead to rigorous process of reversal of money.
“Although, Nigerian Communications Commission has promised to assist mobile network operators to expand their networks to these areas, but with the existing telecommunications infrastructure, poor network connectivity is a problem for us presently,” he said.
He also lamented advanced technology devices that super agents roll out for transactions at rural locations which make their work difficult.
“Technology super agents and Fintech are rolling out for us at rural areas are advanced and does not work well at such environment. Image where 4G PoS are deployed at rural area with 2G network coverage, more so banks deploy soft touch Automated Teller Machine (ATM) with programming that speaks English that dwellers hardly interpret.
“Super agents with their technology partners also deploy for our use Andriod PoS whose power doesn’t last longer. Android PoS consumes power more than windows powered PoS and considering that there is no electricity supplies at some of these rural areas, such PoS don’t last long before their power goes off.”
Atanda however, urged central bank of Nigeria, to review its policies on agent banking to empower Agents to log complains on behalf of their customers on transaction issues.
Atanda was responding to presentation delivered by Ronke Kuye, managing director, Shared Agent Network Expansion Facilities (SANEF) at DigitalPay conference held in Lagos earlier this week.
Speaking on ‘Ubiquitous customer touch-points: The agents banking benchmark for scale’, she identified some impediments to SANEF realizing the objective of increasing financial inclusion to 80 percent by 2020.
Among them are, cumbersome process for BVN enrolment; low proximity to financial access point, where there are only about 17,000 bank branches to serve 100million Nigerian adults;
She lamented high cost of transactions to customers, as well as lack of compelling products to attract the unbanked.
“There is inadequate financial literacy and campaigns among the unbanked, including language barriers. And also lack of simple interoperable technology/payment platform for account opening and other transactions as well absence of central coordination of stakeholder efforts on financial inclusion.”