The 80 per cent financial inclusion target by 2020 is still in the buildup, as the banking industry has unveiled a new strategy to get 35 million new customers into the financial system in the next 28 months.
With arrangements under the Shared Agent Network Expansion Facility (SANEF), no less than 500,000 agent networks will be created across the country, to facilitate the achievement of the set goals.
The move will, invariably, create jobs for the agents, but more importantly, become effective approach to reaching millions of the unbanked in the rural areas, as the agents are incentivized with N100 commission for every new identity registered under the Bank Verification Number.
Besides, the agents, being equipped technologically, will seamlessly enlist new entrants in about two minutes, thus eliminating time wasting and the ensuing discouragements, while they will also provide banking services at cheaper costs. The scheme, which is an initiative of the Bankers Committee, Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System, is already yielding results, Mobile Money Operators and Payment Service Providers have fully bought into it.
A member of the Technical Committee of the Bankers Committee on SANEF initiative, Bolaji Lawal, said the agents would be deployed at all the 774 local councils, experience centres of telecommunications companies and markets. He said that presently, there are more than 70,000 access points in the country, three mobile money operators, six super agents and a target of between 100,000 and 150,000 agents network in the third and fourth quarter of 2018.
According to him, there are training and certification ongoing and a plan to rev up immediately, the financial literacy and customer education programmes, which will run across print and electronic media.