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Agent banking deepening gender, financial inclusion, says expert

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Connor Hanan, Software Group’s Chief Executive Officer, Africa and Middle East, says agent banking can bridge the gender and rural-urban gaps to ensure financial inclusion for more unbanked Nigerians.

Mr Hanan said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday, in Lagos.

Agent banking is the conduct of banking business on behalf of a financial institution, through an agent, using various service delivery channels.

Service delivery channels utilised includes the use of mobile phones, POS (point-of–sale) terminals, card readers and other technology for processing real time transactions.

Mr Hanan said that Nigeria’s huge population presented an opportunity for expansion of financial services to over 38 million unbanked Nigerian adults.

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Increasing shared prosperity, eradicating inequality and extreme poverty would be attainable with the financial inclusion of more unbanked individuals, especially women, he said.

According to him, agency banking transactions increased from three per cent of the country’s transactions to 19 per cent in a single year, even though the growth was below the 70 per cent National Financial Inclusion Strategy target expected in 2020.

He said that to enhance growth, financial institutions were deploying innovative technology through agency banking to deliver their services to more individuals in hard-to-reach communities.

There are more opportunities in the agency banking space that the country can leverage beyond the current cash in cash-out service, he said, emphasising that it should be extended to facilitate lending, health insurance, payment and registration for different services,  among others.

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Mr Hanan added that the platform had created employment opportunities for many small-scale businesses and aided their contributions to the gross domestic product, GDP.

He noted that Software Group recently launched a fast-track agency banking software to assist banks expand their reach, speed and competitive cost, saying that the software solution would deepen agency banking growth and accelerate the country’s financial inclusion targets.

NAN

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