In its effort to reinforce its role of impacting the nation’s economy, FirstBank of Nigeria created Agent Credit Scheme to promote and expand FirstMonie Agents businesses in the country. AMAKA IFEAKANDU writes on the impact of the scheme in promoting financial inclusion and growth of the nation’s economy in general.
First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s leading financial inclusion provider has continued to promote financial inclusion and growth of the nation’s economy, despite the COVID-19 impact on the world economy.
The bank created Agent Credit Scheme (ACS to reinforce its resolve in deepening financial inclusion across the nooks and crannies of the country through its Firstmonie Agents operating in 99 per cent of the country’s 774 local government Areas.
The scheme was established specifically by the bank to promote and expand the business activities of its Firstmonie Agents– while putting them at an advantage to contribute positively to the growth of the nation’s economy.
The Agent banking, according to the bank, is a channel used to bring financial services closer to the unbanked and under-banked segment of the society by empowering existing business within the communities to deliver these services.
Reason for creating Agents Credit Scheme
Basically, the agent credit scheme was created to promote and expand the business activities of its foremost agent banking platform-Firstmonie agents- while putting them at an advantage to positively impact their immediate environment. The credit scheme is a digital lending solution designed to provide bridge finance to help First Bank Agents solve liquidity challenges resulting from depleted account balances, even when the agents have physical cash at hand. The agent can access this fund, pending cash lodgement at the bank’s nearest Branch.
The loan amount to be accessed by the agents is 25 per cent of average daily credit turnover for a period of three months subject to maximum loan amount of N1 million. The loan will attract 24 hours tenor during the weekdays and maximum of 72 hours or next working day during the weekends and public holidays.
Before accessing the loan, the agent must have been in account relationship with FirstBank for a minimum of three months while Interest rate stands flat at 0.3 per cent on disbursed amount. The agent will pay Keyman Insurance of N1,000 per annum with minimum loan amount of N20,000. The agent will also have Positive Credit Check and satisfactory KYC Report.
The agents, according to the bank, will receive up to N1 million to fund more transactions as well as have access to fund before cash lodgement at the branch. The fund will be available for use every day, including peak periods -weekdays, weekends and public holidays. The loan offers opportunity for business expansion and increase in income.
The target market are agents who have been active on the Bank’s Agent Network for a minimum of three months.
With the establishment of Agent Credit Scheme, First Bank’s FirstMonie Agents have sustained and expanded their businesses across the country.
For instance, the number of Firstmonie Agents rose from 120,000 as at July last year to 150,023 by December 9, 2021, spreading across 772 out of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria.
The onboard Firstmonie Agents currently stand at 63684 while the volume and value of transactions conducted by the agents since inception till December 9, 2021,rose to 817.7 million and N17.51 trillion respectively.
The bank recently empowered its Firstmonie Agents with the sum of N100 billion.
In 2021, the bank rewarded 37 agents have been promoting financial inclusion in the country during Firstmonie Agents national award. The award was part of the bank’s commitment to driving financial inclusion nationwide.
With the agents’ business expansion, Firstmonie Agents are widely described as ‘Human ATMs’ empowered to reduce the reliance on over-the-counter transactions while providing convenient personalised services. The Firstmonie Agents, were equipped to carry out services which include account opening; cash deposit; airtime purchase; bills payment; withdrawals and money transfer.
Firstmonie Agents have significantly contributed to promoting access to finance and banking services in areas with little or no banking presence.
First Bank’s views on award
Speaking during the bank’s Agent Banking national award, Chief Executive Officer FirstBank Dr. Adesola Adeduntan said the Firstmonie agent network is a bespoke channel through which the bank expresses its unalloyed commitment and passion to promote opportunities and access to financial services by every Nigerian, especially within the low-income segment.
The Firstmonie Agent Banking awards had the Bank – FirstBank – reward 37 leading Agents that have promoted financial inclusion in the country. The sum of N250,000 was won at the State level by 31 Agents; N1,000,000.00 at the Regional level by 5 Agents with the grand prize being the sum of N2,500,000.00 at the National Level.
Adeduntan explained that with the initiative, the gap between the tech savvy and the low literacy clients has been breached as Firstmonie agent network represents the convenient and comfortable alternative for customers unacquainted with sophisticated digital channels.
Bank’s view on Agent Credit scheme
Reiterating the Bank’s role in deepening financial inclusion in the country, Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products, Chuma Ezirim said, “we are truly excited about the tremendous impact of the Agent Credit on the performance of our Firstmonie Agents nationwide.
“ Since the introduction of the Agent Credit to support our ‘Human ATMs’ as we fondly call our Firstmonie Agents, they have recorded immense growth in their businesses, at levels they never envisaged in such a short period.
“Our key goal is to continue to deliver financial services to the underserved and unbanked populations, employing modern technology for processing real-time transactions and in doing so, contribute to building capacities and learning new skills in information technology, cash management and relationship management for our FirstMonie agents.
“We encourage our Firstmonie Agents to keep being exemplary in setting the pace to promote financial inclusion as we collectively work towards the continuous growth and development of the national economy.”
While appreciating the work done by the agents, Ezirim said: “With our Firstmonie Agents in every neighbourhood, several communities have witnessed a surge in business and financial activities, which is contributory to national growth and development.”