Financial Services Agents in the South-South geo-political zone in Nigeria have called on the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems Plc, NIBSS to address respectively Stamp duty charges issues on point-of-sales transactions and the Bank Verification Number, BVN challenges they face in the course of their operations.
This was part of the major feedback at the forum hosted in Port Harcourt, hosted by Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access, EFINA, in collaboration with the Shared Agency Network Expansion Facility, SANEF.
The Agents also called on the security officials to cooperate with them and reduce the incidence of harassment and undue arrests as a result of service delivery issues, which requires thorough investigations before arriving at conclusions.
Stamp Charges & Other Matters
They believed that the Nigerian Police Force should work closely with the Association of the Mobile Money Agents in the country, to ensure the due process is applied in terms of allegations and issues that may arise between the agents and customers.
In response, the Head, Financial Inclusion Secretariat of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Joseph Attah assured the Agents that the issue of stamp duty charges is under review.
Mr. Attah also stated that on the service delivery issues and BVN enrolment issues, the CBN would explore facilitating a joint stakeholders meeting between EFINA, SANEF, The Financial Services Agents, Banks and Fintechs to explore lasting solutions.
In his remarks on the “Role of Government in Deepening Financial Inclusion,” Mr. Joseph Attah said finance is critical to national development, as he asserted that “Nations develop faster when there is increased financial penetration.
He informed the stakeholders at the event that the roadmap to attaining a financial inclusion level of 80% for adults was still intact and said the current exclusion rate was 36.8%, dropping from 46.3%.
The CEO of SANEF Mrs. Ronke Kuye, in her remarks informed the agents that the Zonal forum across the 6 geo-political zones was designed to deepen financial inclusion in the country.
Giving further insight into the SANEF activities Mrs. Uche Uzoebu, Head Distribution, said the focus was to widen the financial services points across the country, with 500,000 agents by 2020.
Mrs. Uzoebu also added that SANEF was exploring widening the pool of products for Agents to experience and market to customers, for example, the micro-insurance policy.
On his part, M.r Geoffrey Chukwuneye of the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement Systems, in his presentation said NIBSS was committed to driving the process of achieving 100m BVNs by 2024, which is the target set by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
SIPs: An Assessment
Speaking on the Social Investment Programme of the Federal Government, Mr Emmanuel Okoegwale believed the Financial Services agents had huge opportunities to provide services to Nigerians that are beneficiaries of the Trader Moni, Market Moni to even the 150,000 cooks that have been engaged for the Home Grown School Feeding Programme.
He gave the example of 50,000 people paid their Conditional Cash Transfer, CCT, provisions but could not access the money because of their location.
A member of the Association of Mobile Money Agents in Nigeria Mr. Obioha Otti in a presentation identified the following challenges facing financial services agents, which include;
- Harassment by Security forces
- Service disruptions
- Lack of Adequate Training
- Poor communication with financial institutions
- Paucity of funds
He called for collaboration between the Financial Services Agents, Security forces, financial institutions, Fintechs, and regulators to deepen financial inclusion.
Mr. Henry Chukwu, the Network Specialist for EFINA, informed the agents that the regional stakeholder meetings were designed to broaden the conversation and engagements on ways to improve access to financial services in the country, as the countdown to the year 2020 begins with the target of a 20% financial exclusion rate.
The next regional financial services agent forum will hold in Kano State in the North-West region.