Increasing access to finance through agent banking
Breakfast Series
25 October 2011

EFInA Access to Financial Services in Nigeria 2010 survey shows the main barriers for not having bank accounts include steady income, unemployment and distance to bank branches. EFInA hosted its second breakfast series to evaluate the ways agent banking can further the financial inclusion agenda, and to identify key success factors required to develop and sustain a viable agent banking network in Nigeria.

Agent banking refers to the delivery of financial services outside conventional bank branches, and entails the usage of non-bank retail outlets which rely on technologies such as point-of-sale (POS) terminals, or mobile phones, for real-time transaction processing.

The roundtable discussion, which had in attendance the Heads of Retail Banking and Strategy of the Deposit Money Banks and Mobile Payments Operators in Nigeria, sought insight on the most effective method for developing an agent network in Nigeria.  They examined options for developing agent networks, identified  success factors, as well as to evaluated ways in which agent banking can further financial inclusion in Nigeria.  Financial inclusion would enable the delivery of financial services at affordable costs across a wider range of income segments of society.

Chief Executive Officer of EFInA, Modupe Ladipo, said, “In order to achieve universal access to financial services, banks will need to adapt their systems to a low-value, high volume transactional environment with numerous points of access, where  people can conveniently conduct financial transactions.” EFInA also presented findings of their evaluation and assessment of  agent banking models in Kenya, Peru, India, Brazil and Colombia, and highlighted the key elements that should be adopted in the regulatory framework for agent banking in Nigeria. Ms. Ladipo noted that presently in Brazil there are 84 agents to 100,000 individuals, whilst Kenya has 112 agents per 100,000.

The keynote speaker was Ms. Jennifer Barassa, the Chief Executive Officer of Top Image, a mobile money transfer agent management expert and one of the leading consumer outreach and promotions company in Kenya. Ms. Barassa presented key facets of agent management and the critical success factors for developing and managing a viable agent banking network. Ms. Barassa stated that, “Agents play an important role in acquiring new customers enabling them to transact and keeping the customer satisfied.” She also outlined the challenges to introducing agent banking, and possible solutions to mitigate them. Ms. Barassa further added, “Passion and commitment of both the company and the agent, in conjunction with high recruitment and training standards, will be key to ensuring successful agent management. Well-documented KPIs and strong branding will also contribute to the success of the initiative.”

In closing Ms. Ladipo stated that, “The adoption of the agent banking system would enable more individuals to successfully utilise the banking system in Nigeria and is also crucial to the success of mobile payments and other branchless banking models.”