Leading retail bank in Nigeria, Access Bank Plc., in its bid to enhance financial inclusion has announced its intentions to increase its customer base and deepen wallet share of the banking population riding on its agency banking platform.
Access Bank agency banking known as ‘Access Closa’ recently hit a milestone of having 100,000 agents currently spread across the nation as the bank further plans to increase its footprint by having a minimum of 50 agents in each of the 774 LGAs across the country.
Speaking on the development, the Group Head, Agency Banking, Chizoba Iheme, said; “Due to the limited number of financial institutions, especially in rural areas, Access Closa is Access Bank’s strongest retail channel used in providing banking services to a large population of unserved and underserved Nigerians.”
“Going by the high youth and adult population, the resources of Nigeria’s financial institutions are being overstretched in providing physical and human resources and were unable to cope with gaps that existed in meeting banking needs of Nigerians hence the need for Agency Banking as envisaged by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2013.”
“Therefore, Agency Banking helps financial institutions decongest crowded branches by providing a matching and more often convenient channel for their customers.”
“In instances where reaching customers in rural areas is often highly expensive for financial institutions because transaction numbers and volumes do not cover the cost of a branch, agency banking helps in serving them.”
“Becoming an agent has become a means to empower and reduce unemployment in Nigeria.”
“Our commission structure allows an agent to earn up to N500,000 and more monthly in commission including incentives and opportunities for agents to grow their business and partner with a reputable brand is an attraction to the Closa brand.”
“On the risks associated with agency banking and how Access Bank moves to mitigate them, Iheme listed four major risks identified – Technological, Legal, Fraud/Reputational Assets.”
“Technological Risk, to prevent software and hardware failures, the bank is investing in new infrastructure with capacity to absorb service disruptions that will have minimal impact.”
“As part of our onboarding process, the bank’s agents are required to execute a service agreement that stipulates the roles and responsibilities of each party.”
“Also, agents are trained at the point of activation on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Terrorism Financing. This training also takes place every year to reiterate the dangers and consequences associated with fraudulent actions.”
“Besides, the bank has set a maximum daily limit on the amount and frequency of transactions that can be performed by an agent. Lastly, a quarterly risk profiling exercise is carried out on all agents for effective management.”
It is noteworthy that Access Bank, as the leading retail bank in Nigeria has over 600 branches and more than 40 million customers. The bank offers products and services tailored to suit the lifestyle of every Nigerian irrespective of age and demographic.