Ndubuisi Francis and Udora Orizu in Abuja
As part of efforts by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to achieve 80 per cent financial inclusion by 2020, the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) has launched an agency banking partnership in collaboration with Fidelity Bank Plc.
The collaboration is designed to increase access to financial services in the rural areas, bridge the gap between the poor and the rich, create jobs and empower the poor to bring them into the formal economy.
Speaking at the project launch in Abuja, with the theme, “Unifying Agency Banking and TSA Collection on a Single Platform,” the General Manager, Financial Services Unit, NIPOST, Muktar Baba lamented that most of the adult population of developing countries such as Nigeria lack access to banking services, adding that it is only when they have access to such services that the government and banks will know they are there and advance credit to them.
“NIPOST and CBN have been working assiduously on financial inclusion. NIPOST has the right infrastructure in those rural areas. So, NIPOST has a role in national financial inclusion strategy and that is to position the post office at the centre to make it possible for the customer of every bank to have access to your service and to do that we had to partner with one of the financial institutions like fidelity bank,” he said
Baba added that when the project picks up, customers of every bank could go to wherever this collaboration is and have access to financial service and gradually, expressing the hope to cover the whole country.
On his part, the Deputy Managing Director, Fidelity Bank, Mohammed Balarabe revealed that the project will commence in 266 NIPOST branches.
“This project is in line with our strategy for financial inclusion. What NIPOST is doing is deploying its over 1,400 locations across the country in collaboration with Fidelity Bank to deploy banking services to all and sundry so that those individuals who currently do not have access to financial services will now be able to do so.
“From the pilot that we are going to embark on will involve about 266 branches, and immediately get people to enjoy services of banks and ultimately we will see more and more development across the country,” he said.
While listing the benefits of the partnership, the Postmaster General of the Federation, Bisi Adegbuyi said
the project has the potential to increase the revenue base of both organisations and enhance the savings culture of the rural dwellers as well as help in mopping excess cash from rural communities.
He revealed that CBN recently granted NIPOST Super Agency licence which its principle is to operate agency banking.
“Following the development, NIPOST’s Financial Services Unit was mandated to establish a Financial Services supermarket where customers of various service providers can have access to the products and services and also develop an Agency Banking framework to serve as guideline for all banks in the country to be part of the system.”
“With effect from today Fidelity Bank will have its Point of Sales (POS) used for TSA collections on NIPOST counters and which have also been upgraded to perform the dual function of Agency Banking. This arrangement therefore, enables customers irrespective of the bank where their accounts are domiciled to access this facility in the Post office for cash withdrawals and deposits.”
“The collaboration an added impetus to NIPOST revenue drive as it would no doubt boost our revenue profile in addition to tradition postal services,” Adegbuyi added