Victor Olojo, National President, of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria (AMMAN) has said, mobile money has successfully unlocked access to financial services for the unbanked population who don’t have the means to commercial banking services.
Speaking at a recent interview with Channels TV, Olojo said an average agent serves a minimum of 20 customers per day, in other to drive more wallet transactions but Nigeria as a country is still cash dominant”
“Hence mobile money agents in Nigeria are committed to educating and sensitising the unbanked Nigerians on the other electronic payment channels in order to drive the cashless economy,” he said.
Mobile money services are seen as powerful tools for bringing unbanked and underbanked people into the formal financial sector.
According to Shared Agent Network Expansion Facilities, the number of bank agents surged by 1,456.9 percent to 1.3 million in 2022 from 83,500 in 2018.
While the number of registered mobile money agent outlets per one thousand square meters in Nigeria has increased by 380.2 percent to 680.9 in 2021 from 141.8 in 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
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Last year, a 2021 Global Findex report stated that the higher adoption of mobile money is driving the growth of account ownership in financial institutions particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries.
The report titled ‘Financial Inclusion, Digital Payments, and Resilience in the Age of COVID-19, showed that Nigeria’s banked population increased by 15.6 percentage points to 45.3 percent in 2021, the highest in 10 years from 29.7 percent in 2011.
“Mobile money has become an important enabler of financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially for women as a driver of account ownership and of account usage through mobile payments, saving, and borrowing,” the report stated.
Apart from improving or increasing financial inclusion, the increased adoption of agency banking has also been an enabler for creating employment opportunities in developing countries especially Africa’s biggest economy where unemployment is estimated at 33.3 percent as of 2020.
“Nigeria is Africa’s largest unbanked population, and while its payment industry has flourished, there’s hardly any lead player banking the unbanked in a sustainable manner. This is where mobile money comes in,” said Nika Naghavi, MFS Africa’s executive director of mobile network operators last year.
She added that the adoption of mobile money in Nigeria through MTN and Airtel will change the landscape and introduce innovative services and partnerships that will differ from what we’ve seen so far.
“The entrance of telcos like MTN and Airtel into the Nigerian mobile money market is a big trend for mobile money on the African continent.”
Mobile money accounts are expected to grow by 39 percent of the sub-Saharan population by 2025, a global mobile money 2021 report shows.