As part of initiative to reduce the large population of unbanked and the underbanked in the country, Basic Information and Communication Systems (BICS) Limited in collaboration with Software Group and the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) held a workshop on digital services and financial inclusion on Wednesday 28th, 2018 at the Lagos Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos state.
The workshop which was titled “Digital Financial Services and Financial Inclusion Using Alternative Delivery Channels” forms part of efforts towards achieving the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) goal of reducing the percentage of those with little or no access to financial services (the underbanked and the unbanked) to 20 per cent by 2020.
In a chat with correspondents, Greg Nwamadi the Director of Corporate Services, BICS (a Nigerian enterprise solution firm devoted to providing diverse delivery channels of financial services to remote areas) averred that the partnership which is anchored on leveraging agent distribution networks using NIPOST centres and propelled by technologies provided by Software Groups will also provide 10,000 jobs for the population in the short term.
Nwamadi said that BICS is already building a training facility in Edo state to train up to 1000 – 2000 youths annually and the graduants will form the bulk of agents that will market the off-takers products.
“We are going to activate the over 4,000 NIPOST location centres nationwide which will become transaction centres with a specific mandate for each of these offtakers. Our focus is to on-board Commercial banks, Microfinance Banks (MFBs) and Non-financial Institutions into a NIPOST shared-platform for transactions and other services thereby creating efficiency in customer acquisition and transaction processing” Nwamadi said.
“Agents will be properly empowered with motorbikes, hand-held devices and other vital items to go to the last man in every nook and cranny of the country to carry out financial services because that is the essence of financial inclusion” he added.
Mallam Mukhtar Baba, General Manager, Financial Services, NIPOST on his part observed that about 60 per cent of adult population living in the rural areas have little or no access to financial services. More so, close to 70 per cent of postal outlets are located in the rural areas devoid of any form of bank presence.
It is in this that the relevance of NIPOST in driving financial inclusion becomes pertinent. To the financial players, it is a strategy to widen their outreach and cut cost as the over 4,000 postal centres scattered across the length and breadth of the country will automatically serve as extension of bank branches” Mukhtar said.
Joseph Agyeman-Badu, Software Groups’ Sales Manager for Africa stated that the tripartite collaboration entails Software Groups, a Bulgarian-based information technology multinational company, providing the technology to drive the entire process. BICS Limited being SG’s exclusive partner for Nigeria remains the business front for the NIPOST platform while the different locations of NIPOST we serve as transaction.
NIPOST, a core member of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy Committee plays a strategic role of providing a financial supermarket for customers of every financial service provider to access services without necessarily going to his/her bank branch.
“With BICS driving the process, we are deploying the technology for a nationwide agency banking network where anyone, regardless of the bank a customer has an account, he can walk into any offices of NIPOST to carry out regular banking transactions ranging from deposits, withdrawals, bill payments, remittances, electronic fund transfer among others.” Agyeman-Badu said.
“For now our market segment covers banks, microfinance institutions while insurance, financial technology companies and credit unions will be added later.”
Speaking on the extent of coverage of the strategy, Agyeman-Badu noted that they are flagging off the initiative with NIPOST for the meantime while subsequently, any established agency that is interested can actually come on-board. “NIPOST is our official national off taker and since it’s an agency banking, any established third party agent network can actually also sign up on the platform” he said.