The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has granted an approval-in-principle to Interswitch Financial Inclusion Services (IFIS), a subsidiary of Interswitch Group to operate as a super agent in financial services.
According to a statement issued by the company in Lagos, IFIS has a mandate to grow an active Agent Network of 150,000 by 2020. It has also be stated that trading as Quickteller Paypoint, IFIS aims to increase the availability of digital financial services in financially-excluded locations in Nigeria from 44% to over 70% in five years.
Divisional CEO, IFIS, Mike Ogbalu was quoted in the statement to have said: “We are very happy to confirm that CBN has granted the required authorisation for us to operate as a Super Agent. This is an ambitious undertaking and with Quickteller Paypoint, we seek to become the largest and most used agent network in Nigeria by year 2016.”
He further stated that the development was the beginning of what promises to be a new chapter in Nigerian financial services and national development, adding that a whole new frontier of commercial activities will be opened up through the innovation.
“We want to thank our numerous partners and stakeholders and the CBN for trusting our vision enough to give us the opportunity to unlock the value of agency banking and financial inclusion services in Nigeria. Issues around non-robust agent management platform, poor liquidity management, lack of agent interoperability, low agent value proposition, poor investment in agent branding and support have all been duly identified and would be addressed effectively. The hard work starts now but we are going to relish every moment.”
The nod from the Apex bank is expected to signal new levels of collaboration amongst Nigerian Banks, other financial and non-financial institutions to leverage the reach and product innovation offered by the Quickteller Paypoint network.
It is believed that this would enable the extension of their services to previously unreached customers via a shared infrastructure. Interswitch deployed a similar model that delivered the successful rollout of ATM technology across Nigeria.
Adopting the Quickteller, brand, which currently has over 5000 merchants and services such as funds transfer, airtime recharge and more recently, retail insurance, provides immediate value for the agents who from day one will have a rich bouquet of offerings for customers. Quickteller’s brand strength will also be a major leverage for the agents. To this extent, Quickteller Paypoint checks all the keys to agent success which include content, strong brand awareness and user-friendly agent interfaces.
Towards the end of last year, IFIS was introduced to Nigerian e-business personalities at a conference in Uyo, and where the Head of e-Banking, Fidelity Bank, Adedeji Olowe said if there was a Nigerian organisation capable of taking this on, it’s Interswitch. He said just like they have been able to do with switching and linking the banks, he expected them to be able to make this work.