FirstMonie Agent: Standing out from other POS operators




In 2012, First Bank of Nigeria Limited launched FirstMonie App to enhance local fund transfer in the country. But with the re-launch of FirstMonie Agent in 2018 and following the success of a pilot of the agent banking scheme of the CBN, the use of POS for e-payment transaction spreads across the country.   AMAKA IFEAKANDU explains the unique feature of this initiative as a source of  e-payment transactions.

The introduction of Point of Sale (POS) as one of the electronic payment channels by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to drive its cashless policy has, without doubt, enhanced the nation’s payment system.

The initiative has recorded remarkable success as the nation’s financial institutions continue to use the opportunity to introduce different customised e-banking App to deliver quality e-payment services to  customers  

First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s leading financial inclusion service provider was among the banks that came up with e-banking App, Mobile Money Service, tagged FirstMonie with the aim of increasing local money transfers in the nation’s financial system.

Customers on FirstMonie services use their mobile phone number as the account number with registration for service being free. The bank also introduced new service Slogan “First Monie is the new money.”

The operating platform for FirstMonie, powered by Fundamo, a mobile financial service solution provider Visa acquired in June 2011.

Features  

With FirstMonie, customers of First Bank and anyone in Nigeria with a mobile phone, is allowed to send money, pay bills, deposit and withdraw cash, top up their phone airtime without visiting a bank branch.

The bank said: “FirstMonie services have been created with three principles in mind. The first is defined by how consumers receive money to fund their unique lifestyles; how consumers spend money for their unique lifestyle needs; and thirdly, the ability of the consumer to be informed and in control of their money.”

POS payment transactions

However, with the agent banking system initiative introduced by the CBN in 2013, POS business expanded and spread across the country, resulting in an increase in the volume of  e-payment transactions from 2,587,595 recorded in 2012 to 295,890,167 in 2018.

In the year 2019, the volume and value of POS transactions rose to 438,614,182 and N3,204,749,863,644 respectively.

Also, the total volume of POS transactions between January and October 2020 stood at 509.31 million, amounting to N3.67 trillion. But the transaction volume rose to  798.38 million valued at N5.17 trillion in the first 10 months of 2021 ending in October.

The total number of deployed POS terminals increased from 420,853 in October 2020 to 764,589 in October 2021.

Agent banking re-launch

First Bank of Nigeria has been at the forefront of promoting financial inclusion in the country and impacting Nigerians, regardless of their locations nationwide.

 On August 2018, the bank re-launched its FirstMonie Agent banking    following the success of a pilot scheme in six highly populated states – Lagos, Oyo, Kano, Abuja FCT, Anambra, Rivers.

The bank told the public in a statement that “within six months of its launch, the scheme has made appreciable progress with a pervasive network spread across every State.

“FirstMonie Agents are positioned within rural and semi-urban locations across the country to provide basic financial services such as account opening, cash deposit, cash withdrawals, airtime purchase, bill payments and much more to every Nigerian. Through this channel, the bank is committed to providing convenient services that endear trust, provide ease of access to financial products, thereby saving time and travel costs.

“The FirstMonie Agent network is succeeding in reducing the financial exclusion rate nationwide, a very critical objective of the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

Spread of POS outlets nationwide

It is no longer news in the country that in every nook and cranny, there is always a banner with the inscription “POS  Available here.”  The spread of POS has saved a lot of Nigerians, especially in the  2020 financial year when COVID-19 pandemic  hit the global economy.

Interestingly, with the rapid spread of the POS across the country, shady businesses also multiply as many bank customers have lost money to fraudsters in the process. The situation has gotten to the level that some bank customers are becoming afraid to use  POS for any banking  transactions. 

The problem of lack of funds or inability of ATM to dispense cash has worsened the situation,  as  customers are constrained in terms of making withdrawals at any particular point in time.

   The major challenge is that most customers have little or no knowledge about POS. They don’t know  there are different categories of POS and each of them designed for a specific purpose.

Those (POS)  with  inbuilt memory can easily  capture customer’s account detail Including PIN numbers. This offers opportunity for some POS operators to have access to individual account once a customer uses it to make withdrawals.

The high rate of shady deals  resulting from the use of POS has forced many bank customers to  stick to the conventional way of  transactions only within  bank premises or in the banking hall.

FBN assures

But despite all these fraudulent activities and other challenges  faced  by bank customers , FBN has assured its customers of  safety of their hard earned money. Specifically, the bank says the First Monie Agents are different from other POS agents, and that any transaction carried out through First Monie  agent is safe 

Between First Monie agent and others

The First Monie Agent sets itself apart from others in the area of  branding as its parent company-First Bank- ensures all its FirstMonie Agents have their shops branded in FirstBanks’ colours (Blue and Yellow-Gold). 

Beside, FirstMonie agent is also a member of Shared Agent Network Expansion Facilities (SANEF). This CBN accredited organisation is the parent body that ensures that financial services are closer to every Nigerian.

All agents have a Firstmonie Agent Certificate., which implies each agent is verified before being called one.

At  any of the  FirstMonie agent points,  individuals can do other transactions apart from collection of money: Other transactions  such as opening a FirstBank account, withdrawing money from any bank, payment of bills, airtime purchase, deposit money and BVN enrolment are also some of the functions carried out at the agent points.

Engaging in transaction with Firstmonie agent is risk-free as the FBN monitors activities of its agents and ensure   they are in line with CBN stipulated rule and regulations.

Agent Banking

Firstmonie Agent Banking enables customers in unbanked or under-banked regions to process financial requests through registered agents and existing businesses.

Firstmonie Agent Banking is a channel used to bring financial services closer to the unbanked and under-banked segment of the society by empowering existing businesses within the communities to deliver these services.

Firstmonie Agent Network

The Firstmonie Agent network is a bespoke channel through which FirstBank expresses her passion and commitment to broadening the opportunities and access to financial services for every Nigerian and African; especially within the low-income segment (the unbanked and under-banked population).

Firstmonie Ambassador

As a Firstmonie Ambassador, you have an opportunity to recruit agents to join the Firstmonie network and earn income from the transactions your recruited agents perform on Firstmonie Agent channels.

This initiative is a unique opportunity to be partnering with the pioneer of Agent banking, and the largest and most dependable Agent Banking Network in Nigeria!

How to become an Agent 

To become a Firstmonie Agent, you need to have: an existing business, a visible and accessible business location, a valid means of identification (Voters’ card, National ID card, Drivers’ License, International Passport), BVN, and utility bill not more than three (3) months old Business registration documentation for corporate bodies.

Patronise FirstMonie Agents for fund transfer

FirstMonie Agents have been integral to bridging the financial exclusion gap, providing convenient banking services that are easily accessible, thereby saving time and travel costs for individuals in the suburbs and remote environments that have no access to financial services.

The bank launched Agent Credit scheme a year ago to empower its FirstMonie Agents to grow their businesses, whilst being at an advantage to contribute to national development. 

And barely a year after the launch,  the bank announced that it has economically empowered its FirstMonie agents with the sum of N100 billion. The bank currently has over 120,000 Firstmonie Agents, spread across 772 Local Government Areas in the country.

“To ensure that the  money in your account is safe after sending or making  withdrawals with  POS, always look for First Bank’s FirstMonie Agent around you. The safety of your money in your account is  guaranteed with FirstMonie,” says Maryam, a long standing agent of Firstmonie

In all from all indications, FirstBank ,with its FirstMonie Agent channel has driven the financial inclusion initiative much more vigorously than any other bank in the country. 

The 100,000 FirstMonie Agents mark achieved recently by FirstBank speaks a lot about the bank’s strides in the financial inclusion space. No other bank in the nation’s financial Industry has recorded such growth in terms of number and spread of agents in their agent banking networks. FirstBank’s FirstMonie Agents and the thousands of staff they employ  in all the 774 local government areas in Nigeria.

In  2020 alone,  they processed over 295 million transactions with a total value of N6.65 trillion and opened more than 196,000 accounts.

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