Nigeria’s financial inclusion drive gets a boost

By Na'ankwat Dariem and Elizabeth Christopher, Abuja.

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Nigeria’s drive for financial inclusion and to strengthen its financial system has received a major boost as Y’ello Digital Financial Services (YDFS), a subsidiary of MTN Nigeria, launched its super-agent network service named ‘MoMo Agent’ as part of the Financial Inclusion drive of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Speaking at the launch, General Manager, Mobile Financial Services, MTN, Mr. Usoro Usoro said, MoMo agent will reduce the numbers of Nigerians without access to financial services:

“About 36 million Nigerians are banked, the other percentage of Nigerians are unbanked. The question is why do they remain unbanked despite all the years and efforts of trying to drive inclusion? That is because of two primary things: the problem of identity and the problem of access to financial infrastructure, whether bank branches or ATMs.”

He revealed that YDFS has designed strategies that would solve problems of access and identity hindering the country’s inclusion drive:

“We have a clear means of how we intend to solve and address this problem in the MOMO Agent service.

“On the issue of identity, every agent that carries a cell phone today, has done a basic registration that is validated, provided basic information to tell us who he is and that meets the CBN need to Know Your Customers (KYC).” 

Usoro said, “going forward, anyone, anywhere in Nigeria can send and receive money through a MoMo Agent in their neighbourhood.

“We intend to expand the range of financial services offered once the CBN grants approval for a Payment Banking license.”

He disclosed: “YDFS plan to rollout about 500,000 Agents spread across all states and the Federal Capital Territory. 

“MoMo Agents will immediately begin providing safe and accessible money transfer services to under-banked and unbanked people across Nigeria,”  he said.

The agent will earn a decent commission for carrying out transactions or for serving customers of the MoMo agent platform. The multiple ways of earning those transactions, the multiple strings and we think it will form just a good way for expanding employment for this country but also provide decent ways for all agents that will participate in the scheme.

On the issues of financial fraud, he said, “any agent that is found to have flouted any of our rules and immediately identified, would be taken out of the network.

“We have taken very active measures to ensure that we will do a basic vetting of out agents and also provide education to our customers.”

On cost implications, he said, N100 flat rate would be charged for the transaction from Sender and Receiver which according to him, is a total cost of cash conversion, transportation and bank-to-bank transfer.

Also speaking at the launch, the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria, Ferdi Moolman said, “I am excited by the possibilities. We are fortunate to be part of the telecoms industry which underpins the digital economy and is critical to inclusive development and the future economic growth of this great nation. 

“The launch of the YDFS MoMo Agent is especially significant to us. It further demonstrates our commitment to remain focused on enhancing Nigerian’s access to financial services, and in so doing, connect them to what is most important to them.

“The MoMo Agent Network compliments existing banking services by extending access to simple money transfer services and other financial services nationwide.”  

Recall, the World Bank Group considers financial inclusion a key enabler to reduce extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity, and has put forward an ambitious global goal to reach Universal Financial Access (UFA) by 2020.

The CBN has a target to achieve 80% Financial Inclusion in the country by the year, 2020 and has mobilized stakeholders this year to brainstorm on the speedy ways this set target could be achieved.

Amaka E. Nliam