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First Bank of Nigeria has said that its efforts to deepen financial inclusion in Nigeria has grown its network of mobile money agents to over 22,000 agents.

The bank also said the agents had processed over $490 million worth of transactions monthly.

Mr Gbenga Shobo, Deputy Managing Director, First Bank, said this on Thursday in Lagos during the Future of Finance West Africa Conference.

Shobo said this during a panel discussion on “Mobile money services for a better financial inclusion in West Africa.”

The conference was organised by the Asian Banker, a leading Asian consultancy firm that specialises in financial services research, benchmarking and intelligence.

Shobo said that to support the Federal Government’s objectives to deepen financial inclusion, First Bank sought and got a mobile money license in 2012.

He noted that its Firstmonie wallet platform had over four million customers and a spread of agent network that was expected to grow to 50,000 in 2019.

“Firstmonie has had a transformational impact on reaching low-income and historically unbanked households in Nigeria.

“It is integrating them into the wider financial system by providing access to a range of banking services including account opening, fund transfer capabilities, Identity management (BVN) and savings.

“After a successful roll out of the Firstmonie Agent network 2018, the business has grown to a network of over 22,000 agents processing over $490 million worth of transaction in monthly value and a unique transaction count of 10 million monthly,” he said.

He said that the bank had a spread across all the local governments in the country, and had deployed technology, invested in recruitment and training to ensuring that more Nigerians were reached.

Also, Mrs Chidinma Lawanson, Consultant, International Finance Corporation (IFC/World Bank), said that impressive growth recorded in Africa’s financial inclusion was driven by mobile money and agent banking.

She said that mobile money users in Nigeria increased from 1.6 per cent in 2016 to 3.3 per cent in 2018, saying that adoption of mobile money in the country was still low.

Lawanson said that more women should be financially included to achieve Nigeria’s target of 20 per cent financial exclusion adult population by 2020.

Also, Mr Victor Olojo, National President, Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria, said that factors that would drive financial inclusion included – access, convenience, affordability, right technology and consumer protection.

He said that financial inclusion would positively impact on the lives of the poor, uplift them from poverty, while driving the country’s economic development and growth.

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