Imagine yourself in a rural area or even a local market and there appears to be no bank or an ATM in sight, hence you can’t withdraw cash.
This appears to be an apt description of the situation prior to the advent of agent banking in Nigeria because traditional financial institutions typically provide financial services to places with a huge concentration of their customers. Oftentimes, these are in highbrow areas, urban and semi-urban areas.
With over 300,000 mobile money agents strategically spread across the country, MoMo Agent has taken financial inclusion to an otherwise underserved population in Nigeria.
Prior to the MoMo Agent launch in August 2019, less than 70% of Nigerian adults had access to basic financial services according to EFinA.
MoMo Agent was launched to help fill this gap in the financial services sector by providing basic financial services to the communities ignored by traditional banks.
Its strategic agent coverage is extensive and majorly includes rural and semi-urban areas.
With this, residents in these communities can have access to cash-to-cash transactions, bill payments, sending and receiving cash, and more, without having to visit a bank or an ATM.
A GSMA report on the state of the mobile money industry in 2019 stated that the number of agent outlets worldwide has almost tripled over the past five years.
The report also mentioned that the reach of a mobile money agent is now seven times that of ATMs and 20 times that of bank branches.
This data which also captures the Nigerian mobile money market is indicative of the growth at home.
There has been a proliferation of mobile money agents in rural areas and inner cities of urban areas. These mobile money agents who provide inaccessible financial services are alternatives to traditional banking systems like banks and ATMs in these communities.
An important consideration is; “How did people in rural areas perform financial transactions before?” Typically, they had to walk miles to visit the “nearest” bank to their community.
This was mostly unproductive for them, so they relied on cash-to-cash transactions. After the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) introduced the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) in 2012 and subsequently the agent banking guidelines, agent banking came to the rescue.
It is based on this backdrop that the Super-Agent network service, MoMo Agent provides safe and accessible money transfer services in financially underserved communities.
How do these underserved communities perform their financial transactions now? First, they no longer have to walk those miles to banks and ATMs again.
All they need do now is dial *223# on their mobile phone (any type of phone) using MTN line and locate the nearest registered MoMo Agent to them. Most times, this is just some metres away.
What transactions do they carry out? Due to the nonavailability of banks and ATMs in these underbanked regions, people engage in cash-to-cash transactions for their daily operations.
This is why MoMo Agents carry out cash transactions for their customers without an ATM card or POS machine. Some of them even receive money sent to them from their relatives in the city, while others send money to their children in the university.
The MoMo Agent service has now been expanded to include broader means of sending and receiving money, paying PHCN and other kinds of bills, buying airtime and data, bulk payment, as well as cardless cash withdrawal from over 20 banks and 20 other financial institutions in Nigeria.