Stakeholders call for technology driven agency banking approach

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Information and Communications Technology stakeholders have urged central bank of Nigeria (CBN) to make technology the centre piece of agency banking in its financial inclusion programme in order to achieve its mandate.

Tunde Ogungbade, managing director, Global Accelerex, made this known at the second quarter of POS Innovation Summit, organized by the company in Lagos, said that cheap and affordable technology would enable financial inclusion agents deliver financial services to the last mile.

He noted that adequate technology is the live-wire to delivering financial services to people in the hinterland where there is no bank branch or ATM services.

Ogungbade added that the cost of building bank branches is too prohibitive in achieving Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) goal of reaching the unbanked at the hinterland.

According to him, “the intention of the financial services industry is to reach everyone, but then the cost of building bank branches is prohibitive to achieve that last mile.

“We are going to dress this problem using mobile money operators to reach everyone and thereby bridge the gap between the banked and Un-banked.

“The provision of access to financial services to the under-served and most vulnerable in our society will help them step out of poverty and reduce inequality in the society.”

He stated that about 85 % of Africans and Asians are excluded from financial services, noting that this is a problem we must address through cheap and affordable technology.

While supporting digitalization of retail payment system in the country as a boost to financial inclusion initiative of the central bank of Nigeria (CBN), Austin Okere, founder, CWG said that in most emerging markets and developing countries, the current formal financial system only reaches a minority of the working-age adult population,

Emmanual Agha, managing director, Innovectives LLC, said that digitalization of retail payment will help address the huge cash transactions going on at different market clusters across the country.

“There is huge cash transactions going on every day at various market clusters such as Computer Village where over a million transactions happen between 9am and 4pm with only 1 percent of it going through electronically.

Victor Olojo, national president, Association of Mobile Money Agents of Nigeria (AMMAN), stress the need to ensure that technologies that are deployed for agent banking are compactable with the environment where it is been deployed.

“We have observed that policy formations around financial inclusion for rural areas are done by people that don’t understand behavioural pattern of the rural populace in Nigeria. It has always been Top- bottom approach against Bottom- top approach,” he noted.