In order to increase the provision of financial services to unbanked Nigerians, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has licensed 15 mobile money operators.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, explained that the move was to tackle the absence of agent network in rural areas and concentration of agents in the urban areas. He added that the apex bank had also released guidelines for mobile money services in Nigeria and would leverage the network spread of the mobile operators to boost financial inclusion.
“We have so far provided 15 licences to several mobile money operators, who are working to increase access to finance using digital channels, as part of its financial inclusion drive. This was a joint initiative of the CBN and the Bankers Committee,” said Emefiele.
Meanwhile, the mobile operators are expected to deliver services such as cash-in, cash-out, funds transfer, bill payments, airtime purchase, government disbursements and remote enrollment of the BVN to an estimated 60 million Nigerians that are unbanked.
The licensed Mobile Money Operators and super agents are expected to deploy financial service agent outlets in under-served urban, semi-urban and rural areas in Nigeria, with higher priority in the northern geopolitical zones, where financial exclusion rates were higher.
“The super agents are expected to complement the efforts of the MMOs and banks, by hiring and managing sub-agents and extending financial services to the unbanked at minimal cost.
“The super agents are expected to be effective at extending the reach to locations where bank branches may not be available,” Emefiele told Punch.
However, other efforts to boost financial inclusion include the collaboration between the Bankers Committee and the Nigerian Postal Service, which enabled the creation of NIRSAL Micro-Finance Bank in 2019. The microfinance bank has begun to provide financial services across all NIPOST outlets nationwide, providing access to financial services to people in under-served locations at a reasonable cost.