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By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Nigeria’s top tier financial institution, Access Bank Plc, is not resting on its oars despite recently passing the milestone of 100,000 banking agents spread across the country.

The lender plans to dominate the agency banking business in Nigeria and to achieve this, it wants to further increase its footprint by having a minimum of 50 agents in each of the 774 LGAs across the country.

According to the bank, this is part of efforts to deepen financial inclusion, increase its customer base and deepen the share of wallet of the banking population through the Access Closa agency banking platform.

During a conversation with reporters recently, Access Bank Branch Banking Group Manager Ms. Chizoba Iheme noted that due to the limited number of financial institutions, especially in rural areas, Access Closa is Access Bank’s most powerful retail channel used to deliver banking services. to a large population of unserved and underserved Nigerians.

“Our plan is to bank every second Nigerian as this will allow us to increase our customer base and deepen our share of wallet in the banking population.

“Going through the large youth and adult population, the resources of financial institutions in Nigeria are overstretched to provide physical and human resources and have not been able to address the gaps that existed to meet banking needs of Nigerians hence the need for branch banking as envisioned by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2013,” Ms Iheme said in a statement from the lender on Wednesday.

“Therefore, agency banking helps financial institutions decongest crowded branches by providing a matching and more often convenient channel for their customers. In cases where reaching customers in rural areas is often very costly for financial institutions because the number and volumes of transactions do not cover the cost of a branch, bank branches help serve them,” he said. -she adds.

The banker said becoming an agent has become a way to empower and reduce unemployment in Nigeria, noting that “our commission structure allows an agent to earn up to 500,000 Naira and more per month in commission including including incentives and opportunities for agents to grow their business. and associating with a reputable brand is an attraction for the Closa brand.

Further, on the risks associated with agency banking in the country and how Access Banks is going about mitigating them, she added, “We have identified four major risks. These are technology, legal and fraud/reputation assets.

“Technological risk, to prevent software and hardware failures, the bank is investing in a new infrastructure capable of absorbing service interruptions which will have a minimal impact. As part of our onboarding process, bank agents are required to sign a service agreement that outlines the roles and responsibilities of each party. »

“In addition, officers are trained at the point of activation on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter Terrorist Financing. This training also takes place every year to remind people of the dangers and consequences of fraudulent actions.

“In addition, the bank has set a maximum daily limit on the amount and frequency of transactions that an agent can perform. Finally, a quarterly risk profiling exercise is carried out on all agents for effective management,” added Ms. Iheme.

Access Bank is the leading retail bank in Nigeria with over 600 branches and over 40 million customers. The bank offers products and services tailored to the lifestyle of every Nigerian, regardless of age and demographics.

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