One of the many strategies adopted by the Central Bank of Nigeria to increase the level of financial inclusion or financial penetration among adult Nigerians in the country is the Agent Banking strategy.
“Agent Banking is the provision of financial services to customers by a third party (agent) on behalf of a licensed deposit taking financial institution and/or a mobile money operator (principal)” CBN
The Wikipedia defines banking agent as “A retail or postal outlet contracted by a financial institution or a mobile network operator to process clients’ transactions. Rather than a branch teller, it is the owner or an employee of the retail outlet who conducts the transaction and lets clients deposit, withdraw, transfer funds, pay their bills, inquire about an account balance, or receive government benefits or a direct deposit from their employer. Banking agents can be pharmacies, supermarkets, convenience stores, lottery outlets, post offices, and more.”
Apart from the major goal of the Apex bank in driving financial inclusion which is to increase access of adult Nigerians to financial services, Agent banking is expected to help banks to decongest banking halls especially in densely populated communities and environment where banks cannot reach due to land mass business profitability.
,Agent banking is really gaining popularity and banks are already pushing, registering and equipping their willing customers as bank agents.
How Agent Banking Works. (CBN Financial Inclusion strategy)
- Willing customer that has existing retail business that generate physical cash is registered either as a individual or corporate..
- Amount needed to transact as an individual agent of corporate agent, varies from one bank to another.
- The bank equips the customer with branding and ebanking products.(POS, Online Banking and Mobile Banking).
- The agent using the cash flow generated from his existing business pay out money to customers who wants to withdraw cash from their bank accounts while they in turn use the agent’s POS machine by swiping with their bank ATM card or their bank app to transfer the equivalent and his commission to him.
- Customer who want to make deposit brings the cash to the agent while the agent use his mobile app or online banking app to make transfer of equivalent less his commission to the customer’s bank account.
- The agent also buy telecoms recharge card, help pay utility bills including cable TV and other government levies on behalf of his customers.
- Agents can also be empowered to help his principal (Bank) distribute and collect document (including account opening documents, cheque book, mail correspondent, statement of accounts and more) in its location in other to deepen the customer base of the bank.
- There is no exclusivity agreement between an agent and any bank. The agent can act for as many bank as he wish.
- Agents are however no empowered to grant loans on behalf of the banks.
- Agents are also not permitted to charge any amount outside the agreed rates for which the customer is credited monthly by the bank for after reconciliation is done.
Bank Responsibility (CBN financial Inclusion strategy)
- Apart from bank providing branding and Epayment channels, Banks are also expected.
- To provide relevant training to their registered agent, including anti money laundering trainings.
- Banks are expected to resolve all Agent compliant within 14 days.
- Banks are expected to provide dedicated telephone lines where agents can reach the bank representatives.
- Disputes between the bank and its agent are expected to be settled within 10days.
Depending on location and footfall there are new agents in locations earning more than a million monthly.