First Bank of Nigeria Limited has announced a plan to provide loan facilities of about N1 million each to 86,300 of its Firstmonie banking agents across the 774 local governments in Nigeria. The bank said it would support them with credit facilities, which they can access 24 hours a day in less than two minutes.
The bank has successfully used its Firstmonie agents, who make use of Point of Sale (POS) machines, to immensely contribute in bridging the financial gap in many local communities in Nigeria. These agents have been played an essential role in helping to reduce the wide financial exclusion gap across many rural communities, with little or no access to financial services, across Nigeria.
In a statement, Chuma Ezirim, the bank’s Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products noted that several communities have recorded a surge in business and financial activities because of these agents, contributing to national growth and development. According to Ezirim, “the roles played by our Firstmonie agents in promoting businesses across the nooks and crannies of the country cannot be overemphasised as they have continued to set the pace in extending financial inclusion to communities with little or no access to financial services.”
Firstmonie falls in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) mandate to make affordable financial products and services available nationwide. With this latest decision to issue loans to its mobile money agent, First Bank would further increase agents’ capacity to do business while providing business ease for them.
In 2012, the CBN adopted the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS). The Strategy discussed key regulatory barriers to financial inclusion while identifying areas of focus. Thus, the strategy was built on four strategic areas of agency banking, mobile banking/mobile payments, linkage models and client empowerment.
The CBN identified four priority areas for guideline and framework development which include Tiered Know-Your-customer (T-KYC) regulations, Agent Banking regulations, National Financial Literacy Strategy and Consumer Protection.