Nigerian Bank CEOs, CIBN Partner To Deepen Financial Inclusion

Caption: From left, Kennedy Uzoka, GMD, UBA Plc, 2nd left; Peter Amangbo, Zenith Bank; Segun Agbaje, GTB; Prof. Segun Ajibola, President and chairman of Council, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN); Herbert Wigwe, Access Bank (5th right); Emeka Emuwa, Union Bank (4th right); Mrs. Bola Adesola, Standard Chartered Bank (3rd right); and Uzoma Dozie, Diamond Bank (2nd right) during a press conference on deepening financial inclusion in the country.

The Body of Banks’ CEOs and the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), on Tuesday held a press conference to unveil the Shared Agent Network Plan as part of deepening financial inclusion in the country as part of taking financial services to the remotest part of the country, beginning from the insurgency ravaged North-East geo-political zone, followed by the North West and North Central parts.
According to Peter Amangbo, chief executive of Zenith Bank Plc, “the important thing is that we are trying to bring in much more people in the rural areas (into the financial system) through the shared agents in the rural areas.”
The country, he continued, has quite a huge percentage of people outside of the financial system, assuring that the shared services in the rural areas is to compliment what the banks are doing individually already.
This new arrangement, he stressed, would enable financial services reach where the banks cannot reach via digital technology, helped by the nation’s tele-density that is now above 90%, since the innovation is “not about brick and mortal (bank) branches.”
He debunked news that customer base of Nigerian banks is on the decline, even while maintaining that the banks have done very, stressing that the numbers have been growing.
“We want it to grow more,” he continued, observing that the financial system is skewed in favour of some parts of the country, particularly the South west.
The latest initiative, he continued, is part of a desire “to see even growth across the country.”
Commenting on the initiative, Herbert Wigwe of Access Bank Plc described the initiative as “a very interesting development where all the banks are coming together to support financial inclusion, starting from the most financially excluded area.
“The whole idea is to ensure everybody is financial included. It is not about funds, insurance, pension an indeed reducing poverty.
“This will enable the financial institution to grow the economy and contribute more to the GDP of our country.
“Individual banks have tried it but we do not have the economies of scale. There is a whole lot of benefits in sharing cost, infrastructure…
“This kind of collaboration is cheaper,” he stressed further.
“It would enhance remittances, just as it is about sharing cost, technology, infrastructure” and collaboration, which will be cheaper.
Also speaking on the initiative, Kennedy Uzoka of the United Bank for Africa said the whole idea is about “bringing the whole full banking services to individuals that are today excluded from the system. It is not just about loans… it is the entire thing you get from the urban centres that is covered (under the new arrangement).
Fielding questions on sustainability of the initiative, Segun Agbaje of Guaranty Trust Bank, explained that it “is not a government-led initiative, but private sector led. Honestly, It is not an initiative driven by profit but is one that is essential to (the economic wellbeing of) Nigeria… Profit will eventually come.
“The money we are using is what we have set aside… It is not about profit in the short-term but about bringing people into the financial system.
For Mrs. Bola Adesola, chief executive of Standard Chartered Bank, the initiative is for the benefit of the economy, assuring that structures and governance have been put in place to ensure success, stressing that the aspect of sustainability is embedded in the plan.
On his part, Prof. Segun Ajibola, President and chairman of Council of the CIBN said the institute “will do all that is necessary and plausible to support the initiative.”