The inability of banks to open branches close to their customers has boost the patronage of agent banking operators across the country.
Agent banking is an initiative of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to reduce unbanked segments of the society. Agent banking is the provision of financial services to customers by a third party (Agent) on behalf of a licensed deposit-taking financial operator (principal).
Many people have resulted to deposit or withdraw their money through Agent banking operators both in urban and rural areas which has improve usage of Point of Sales (POS) transactions by 95 percent in 2019.
Some financial analysts believed that the increase in POS transaction in 2018 was as a result of patronage received by Agent banking operators.
Speaking with our correspondent, Mr. Benson Okereke said Agent banking will witness another upsurge in 2019 as banks are not ready to open branch in every part of the country.
Many of operators use POS for the withdrawal and this increase POS transactions significantly, he said.
According to him, it is preferable for some people to patronise Agent banking operators with little commission than to enter banking hall that would wait your time.
Some of the services carried out by Agent banking operators are account opening, deposit and withdrawers, fund transfer services and bill payments.
However, the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) has said between January and September 2018, transactions worth N56.85 trillion was carried out electronically.
This is a N16.4 trillion increase from the N40.45 trillion recorded in 2017.
A total of 650.06 million transactions worth N4.76 trillion were carried out on ATMs as against the N4.61 trillion from 560.86 million transactions in 2017.
Other popular platforms used were NIBSS Instant Payment (NIP), Point of Sale (PoS), Mobile Money, Electronic Bills Payment (E-Bills) and Web payments.
Under the review period, 98.73 million transactions worth N975 billion were carried out using POS in 2017, while in 2018, the volume grew to 196.83 million, valued at N1.61 trillion.
Similarly, the volume of transactions carried out by Nigerians, using mobile money rose from N795.18 billion in 2017, to N1.22 trillion as at September 2018.
Also, using the web payment channel, the total value of transactions under the review period rose from N129.24 billion in 2017, to N183.07 billion in 2018.
However, the value of such transactions on e-bill payments, which allowed customers to pay utility bills such as power, cable and so on online, declined from N420.73 billion in 2017 to N370 billion in 2018.
Meanwhile, First Bank of Nigeria Limited had last week extended the Agent Banking campaign to 14 major markets and business points across Bayelsa, Cross River and Delta States.
The market activation which spanned over three weeks was an intensive period of customer engagement, education and awareness creation of the Firstmonie Agent Network and by extension, Financial Inclusion.
In just about 18 months, the FirstmonieAgent Network has expanded to almost every Local Government Area in Nigeria (98 percent coverage) demonstrating our readiness to make financial services available to everyone irrespective of their location.
Firstmonie Agents are positioned within rural and semi-urban locations across the country to provide basic financial services such as account opening, cash deposit, cash withdrawals, airtime purchase, bill payments and much more to every Nigerian. Through this channel, the Bank is committed to providing convenient services that endear trust, provide ease of access to financial products, thereby saving time and travel costs. Transactions carried out through this channel are securely authenticated.
Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, FolakeAni-Mumuney, First Bank explained that the Agent Banking model, which is in line with the mandate of the CBN is targeted at ensuring individuals and members of the public irrespective of their literacy levels, familiarity with technology or income levels can access financial services. The FirstmonieAgent Channel delivers financial services outside conventional bank branches, often using non-retail agents – Firstmonie Agents – and relying on technology such as point-of-sale (POS) terminals or mobile phones for real time transaction processing.
According to the Group Head, eBusiness, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, ChumaEzirim, “With our Firstmonie Agents spread across the country, we are aggressive at increasing the penetration of financial services, especially in the suburbs whilst significantly reducing the unbanked in the country. We encourage the patronage of Firstmonie Agents irrespective of the location as these Agents are well trained to provide the FirstBank Gold Standard Services to customers.