The apex banking regulator, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is finalizing arrangement to license three telecommunications (Telcos) firms as Super Agents for Mobile Money Operations (MMOs) in its efforts to foster financial inclusion in the rural areas.
Under the arrangement, the telcos are to employ sub-agents like the recharge cards sellers in a process that will create more jobs for advertising agencies, and others like printers.
The mobile money operations in Nigeria is achieving its aims of job creation with over 98,000 agents currently enrolled by the operators.
“Currently, the total number of mobile licence operators is 98,258; total number of subscribers 24,389,263; total volume transaction 76,952,409 million while total value of transactions is put at N815billion noted Dipo Fatokun, Director, Banking and Payments System Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN.
In a paper titled “Enhancing the Capacity of Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs), Fatokun said the CBN recognizes the rapid growth of mobile telephony in Nigeria which currently peak at over 120 million subscribers and “recognizes the fact that the majority of the unbanked have access to a mobile phones.”
Mobile money operators however are beset with challenges including epileptic power supply, poor telecommunications connectivity which results in network failures, lack of adequate awareness of the various policies and products to enhanced Customers Awareness.
Though worried by the several challenges on their operations, the apex bank still look up to licensed Mobile Money Operators to strengthen its rural banking connectivity.
It seeks to accelerate its financial inclusion initiative using the mobile money channel to bring rural communities into the banking net in a way to create jobs for the masses.
Currently, 21 Mobile Money Operators (MMOs) have been licensed by the apex bank to carry out commercial operations.
The licensed operators include 14 that are non-bank led MMOs while seven are being coordinated by banks and eight others at the pilot-run stage.
Represented by Shola Agboola, an Assistant Director in the bank, he stressed the need for banks in the rural areas to save and transfer money which they were not able to do because of lack of access to banking services.
Rural dwellers are not in the banking net due to inadequate or lack of, in some cases, of bank branches in their neighbourhoods, low creditworthiness, inability to meet account opening criteria, as well as the cost of transportation and stress in getting to the nearest bank branch.
This informed the CBN efforts at accommodating these set of people as well as people in the low income bracket in their financial inclusion campaign using mobile money banking via mobile phones.