Despite myriads of challenges agent banking faces in Nigeria, panelists at the DigitalPay Expo 2018 has said that the initiative is a major driver to achieving the 80 per cent 2020 financial inclusion goal.
According to them, these challenges include high level of illiteracy, insufficient Point of Sales (POS) facilities, no cash recovery after failed transaction, lack of standard regulations and security of agents.
The panelist, speaking on “Payment Jury: How to drive adoption and usage of agent banking services”, added that urgent solutions be proffered to these challenges to reach the unbanked segment of the country.
Executive Director, Systemspecs Limited, Aderemi Atanda, said financial literacy and providing products for the unbanked was germane because they cannot be interested if they do not understand the benefit of going to a bank agent.Adding that agents must ensure that financial services are available, accessible and affordable, he said, an interface that ensures ease of doing business will help achieve this.
Charging agent bankers to take advantage of digital disruption for more job creations for the economy, Atanda stressed that the garnered knowledge will help agent bankers understand the multiple technologies they require for business.
“Remita is committed to making payment easy, as we use local technology to address local problems. We are also working with other partners within the ecosystem to make it easier for agency banking to thrive,” he added.
On the possibility of achieving 80 per cent 2020 commitment, he said: “I think the banks are committed to financial literacy but it won’t happen in one year, but it is a commitment for 2020, which didn’t start yesterday. I have been a part of the commitment since 2007. We need to evaluate where we are, so we don’t derail. When those targets were set, we had the financial implication of what it will cost, which is not the same now. So who is going to plug that gap for 2020 dream to be realized?
“Along the way, there have been many disruptions that were not factored, that is, economic and technology-wise.The truth is the pervasiveness of technology is going to make the realisation of these things a lot easie and faster but someone needs to be committed to facilitating it,” he said.Stressing that agents wants to remain profitable, Atanda said incentives must be provided to encourage agent bankers go to the inter land in the interface of business to realise the national policy.
“If the agents are just to work to achieve a national policy that will not be economically beneficiary to them, somebody must incentive it so that financial inclusion is realised. It is just a matter of time, when that business is worthwhile and there is a plug-in from the right agencies or the government, the goal will be attained.
“It might interest you that majority of people investing in the policy are foreign institution, the likes of Bill Melinda foundation and you ask yourself where the counterpart funding is coming from. The banks and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have just committed itself to SINEF, which is rolling out about 500, 000 agents,” he added.
On regulating agent bankers, the Executive Director said regulations can only come to play when opportunities are given expression and poses a risk, but people must identify what they want to do before terms and conditions.Speaking on the way forward, he noted that technology adoption, skill upgrade and education, continuous advocacy and literacy, demand for basic knowledge with Artificial Intelligence (AI) for agents not to fall victims of fraud will help agents operate without fear.
Chairman, Association of Mobile Money Agents of Nigeria (AMMAN), Victor Olojo, said people in the inter land be sensitised about financial inclusion through their local heads in their languages and give product they can relate.To get rid of fraudulent agents, Olojo noted that certificate, Identification number will be used. “Although there are regulations form the CBN, agents must ensure that they work with licensed operator. Security personnel needs to know how mobile banking works to reduce harassment,” he added.