Journalism of Courage

Access Bank moves to dominate agency banking business in Nigeria

The bank which recently hit a milestone of having 100,000 agents currently spread across Nigeria, has revealed plans to further increase its footprint by having a minimum of 50 agents in each of the 774 LGAs across the country.

In its bid to enhance financial inclusion, Access Bank says it is poised to increase its customer base and deepen wallet share of the banking population riding on its agency banking platform.

The bank which recently hit a milestone of having 100,000 agents currently spread across Nigeria, has revealed plans to further increase its footprint by having a minimum of 50 agents in each of the 774 LGAs across the country.

In a chat with newsmen, the Group Head of Agency Banking at Access Bank, Ms Chizoba Iheme, noted that due to the limited number of financial institutions, especially in rural areas, Access Closa is Access Bank’s strongest retail channel used in providing banking services to a large population of unserved and underserved Nigerians.

She said: “Our plan is to bank one in two Nigerians as this will see us increase our customer base and deepen our wallet share of the banking population.”

“Going by the high youth and adult population, the resources of Nigeria’s financial institutions are being overstretched in providing physical and human resources and were unable to cope with gaps that existed in meeting banking needs of Nigerians hence the need for Agency Banking as envisaged by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2013.

“Therefore, Agency Banking helps financial institutions decongest crowded branches by providing a matching and more often convenient channel for their customers.

” In instances where reaching customers in rural areas is often highly expensive for financial institutions because transaction numbers and volumes do not cover the cost of a branch, agency banking helps in serving them.”

According to Ms. Iheme, becoming an agent has become a means to empower and reduce unemployment in Nigeria.

“Our commission structure allows an agent to earn up to N500,000 and more monthly in commission including incentives and opportunities for agents to grow their business and partner with a reputable brand is an attraction to the Closa brand.”

Speaking on the risks associated with agency banking in the country and how Access Banks moves to mitigate it, she said: “There are four major risks that we have identified. These are Technological, Legal, Fraud/Reputational and Assets.

“Technological Risk, to prevent software and hardware failures, the bank is investing in new infrastructure with capacity to absorb service disruptions that will have minimal impact.

“As part of our onboarding process, the bank’s agents are required to execute a service agreement that stipulates the roles and responsibilities of each party.

“Also, agents are trained at the point of activation on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Terrorism Financing. This training also takes place every year to reiterate the dangers and consequences associated with fraudulent actions.

“Besides, the bank has set maximum daily limit on the amount and frequency of transactions that can be performed by an agent. Lastly, a quarterly risk profiling exercise is carried out on all agents for effective management.”

Persecondnews reports that Access Bank is the leading retail bank in Nigeria with over 600 branches and more than 40 million customers.

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