Ezekiel Okpuzor, in this interview with the Managing Director of Accelerex Network Limited, Samuel Oladimeji, examines the impact of mobile banking systems and related platforms in the agent banking space and the role the company is playing. Excerpt
What is the difference between mobile money and mobile banking?
They are different. But in recent times, people relate more to mobile banking because agent banking has been more successful than the core mobile money. For mobile money to work effectively, people have to be able to open accounts and hold mobile wallets on their mobile phones using their SIM card. Then these wallets should be able to send money to other registered SIMS, perform deposit transactions and effect withdrawals even without POS (Cash in, Cash out). However, this banking process is not popular in Nigeria. However, mobile banking as the name implies means the ability to perform banking transactions and access related services from mobile gadgets. Mobile banking systems and related platforms has become the underpinning infrastructure for agent banking.
What distinguishes your brand among other competing ones?
A lot of people have been doing outstanding work in the industry and we have had some behemoths totally disrupt the space in the last few years. However, we offer one of the smoothest onboarding experiences. We deploy that using the fastest turnaround time, actively resolving disputes, manage our relationships with agents and partners with a lot of skills and deliberately segment our market for utmost impacts. We also boast some of the most brilliant minds in Financial Technology (Fintech) space, wielding both knowledge and practical understanding of what is needed to successfully deploy cutting-edge fintech solutions through agent networks and to consistently update same to stay relevant. In one year of business, we have started processing an average monthly transaction in the volume of N9billion. We have more than 6000 agents in 21 States. We are certain, we have what it takes to get it to the last mile.
What is unique value proposition?
Our unique value proposition is the Point of Sales (POS) deployment. Using ANP, we have been able to create a one-stop shop for agent banking services. We are able to ensure that starting an agent business is seamless. Furthermore, our platform is secured and has the most robust accounting system in the industry ensures that the agents accounting is without stress. The users of our platform can testify to these submissions.
What are your goals and objectives?
We want to be the manager of the most active and profitable agent network. For us, it is always about the agents and we factor this when we price our products, resolve issues, engage with partners and this influences our daily decisions. If our agents are profitable, it means the organisation is adding value.
A lot of has been said about Digital Credit in Fintech. Is your company working on this?
Digital credit is a fascinating prospect in Fintech. In fact, it is so fascinating that every startup or even established businesses are looking to delve into that area. It is a massive market. For Accelerex, we are looking at this conscientiously. We have done a pilot study and have been able to measure the demand. It is important to state here that we are not licensed to give loans; however, as agents of commercial banks and other microfinance banks, we are able to leverage these platforms to extend credits digitally to our agents through integrations. By the end of the year, we will definitely be having conversations around how successful it had been and the lessons we have learnt. From Accelerex, it is one of the things we want to do.
What are your views on the new finance bill implemented by the federal government and the new CBN Pricing policy?
I believe that businesses like ours was most affected especially as we deal directly with agents who respond almost immediately with regards to the slightest changes in policies. Dynamics such as stamp duty, downward review of prices affects the market and puts pressure on businesses. However, this is very good for the end consumer. At Accelerex Network, we are always focused on compliance with laws and regulations because we have to do business in Nigeria too. So our language here is to comply first while, we continue to engage stakeholders to ensure that we are able to sustain our business.
Research has revealed that illiteracy is a drawback on the adoption of Agent Banking. What your company doing to address this challenge?
We start with acknowledging the problem. Like you pointed out in the question, communicating value requires a certain level of understanding. Right now, we have come to understand that the people that can clearly communicate this value to the base of the pyramid are the ones that are from there. This has informed our utilization of a refined aggregator model that has proven successful as a business development model. Using this model, we are able to close the communication gap and ensure that value is communicated using the language that the customer understands and at his comfort zone. We do this through advocacy, sensitisation, and aggregator model and sometimes direct selling. So far, we can boast of having one of the robust agent networks at the last mile.
How secured is fintech and how are you dealing with cybercrime?
No system is 100percent safe. Once in a while, vulnerabilities might appear in systems, but it takes responsive organizations to anticipate this and respond appropriately. In this regard, we have enjoyed the support of Global Accelerex whose ANP (Agent Network Platform), we have rented for this purpose. I can say that it is the most secure platform and this can easily be confirmed by the agents.