Tel­cos to be­gin su­per-agent bank­ing

Business a.m. - - FRONT PAGE - Ades­ola Afo­labi

THE CEN­TRAL BANK OF NIGE­RIA (CBN) says telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion com­pa­nies (tel­cos) would soon be granted li­censes to op­er­ate as su­per agents in the fi­nan­cial ser­vices sys­tem to­wards a speedy im­ple­men­ta­tion of its fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion strat­egy.

THE CEN TRAL BANK OF NIGE­RIA (CBN) says telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion com­pa­nies (tel­cos) would soon be granted li­censes to op­er­ate as su­per agents in the fi­nan­cial ser­vices sys­tem to­wards a speedy im­ple­men­ta­tion of its fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion strat­egy.

Dipo Fa­tokun, the act­ing direc­tor of pay­ment ser­vices at the CBN, dis­closed this re­cently dur­ing a panel ses­sion at the 2018 an­nual na­tional con­fer­ence of the Fi­nance Correspondents As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria (FICAN), with the theme: “Banks, Fin­techs and Nige­ria’s Fi­nan­cial In­clu­sion Jour­ney,” held in La­gos, re­cently.

The ad­mis­sion of tel­cos into the su­per agent scheme would com­ple­ment the ear­lier ap­proval-in-prin­ci­ple to two com­pa­nies—In­novec­tives Lim­ited and In­ter­switch Fi­nan­cial In­clu­sion Ser­vices Lim­ited—to op­er­ate as su­per agents.

In 2015, the CBN is­sued the “Li­cens­ing Frame­work for Su­per Agents” to en­cour­age other in­fra­struc­ture providers and op­er­a­tors, in­clud­ing tel­cos, to pro­vide shared agent net­work ser­vices, is ex­pected to rapidly ex­pand fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion touch­points and ex­tend dig­i­tal fi­nan­cial ser­vices across the coun­try.

Ac­cord­ing to Fa­tokun, who was rep­re­sented by Taiwo Oladimeji, deputy direc­tor, bank­ing and pay­ment systems depart­ment of the CBN, four of the tel­cos are cur­rently pro­cess­ing li­censes as su­per-agents un­der the mobile money op­er­a­tions frame­work.

He said Globa­com’s sub­sidiary, Money Masters, has been granted a mobile money su­per-agent li­cense for over six months, while ap­pli­ca­tions for MTN’s sub­sidiary, Yel­low Dig­i­tal and that of Air­tel’s , Air­tel Mobile Com­merce, are un­der pro­cess­ing.

Ex­plain­ing that the li­censes will grant tel­cos the abil­ity to carry out fi­nan­cial ser­vices just like Kenya’s Mpesa, he said, “there is noth­ing which you can do as a su­per-agent that you can’t do as tel­cos are do­ing in Kenya.”

On other bank­ing agency li­cens­ing he stated that “there is no gainsaying the fact that fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion is the way to go, it’s very im­por­tant be­cause of the ben­e­fits and gains, and it’s in or­der to achieve all this ben­e­fits that the CBN started putting some frame­work in place, one of them is the agent bank­ing frame­work”

He ex­plained that the frame­work, which is par­tic­u­larly con­cerned with con­sumers at the tail-end of ac­ces­si­bil­ity usu­ally re­ferred to as the last mile cus­tomer, would fa­cil­i­tate agents of banks that will be nim­ble and com­pact to de­liver the last mile ser­vice, adding, “there is no bank that will be able to be present in all the ham­lets in Nige­ria in the short term.”

Amongst the frame­works the CBN has put in place to drive fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion, Fa­tokun fur­ther pointed out the im­por­tance of agent lo­ca­tion through the Shared Agent Net­work Frame­work (SANEF) ini­tia­tive, which aims to cre­ate 500,000 agent lo­ca­tion over a pe­riod of two years.

He said, “re­gard­less of the mod­els that we try to adopt, agent lo­ca­tion are key, be­cause if you use a mobile phone to send money to me and I want to cash out I need to get an agent.”

Speak­ing on the is­sue of low mobile money adop­tion, which stands at 3 per­cent as at 2017, Fa­tokun ex­plained that there are a num­ber of con­straints, in­clud­ing sup­ply and de­mand is­sues.

“Fi­nan­cial ac­cess is dif­fer­ent from use. There are peo­ple liv­ing or work­ing in Vic­to­ria Is­land to­day, who have some of the best ac­cess to fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion but don’t use fi­nan­cial ser­vices, so the is­sue is not just about pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial ac­cess.”

He noted that ideas to breach th­ese gaps are wel­come by the CBN, ad­vis­ing star­tups or ex­ist­ing play­ers who have new prod­ucts or so­lu­tions for un­banked and un­der-banked to write the apex bank after which they will be in­vited to make a pre­sen­ta­tion.

“If you have a solution that will bring pay­ment for bank­ing, in­sur­ance, pen­sion, etc. to some far flung areas, just come, you don’t need to be a li­censee be­fore you come on board,” he said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.