Experts advocate agent banking, transformative innovation to enhance financial inclusion

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SOME financial experts on Tuesday said that transformative innovation and adopting agent banking would enhance financial inclusion in the country.

They made this known in separate presentations at the ongoing Digital PayExpo Conference and Exhibition in Lagos.

The 19th edition of the Digital PayExpo Conference and Exhibition had the theme: ” FINCLUSION: Aligning Expectations with the (Digital Financial Services) DFS Business Case’’.

Mr Parag Mehta, Chief Executive Officer, Evolute Systems Private Ltd., Mumbai, India, said that transformative innovation in technology which would enhance inclusion needed added capacity which should come through financial access points.

He spoke on the topic, “Techpowering the FinTech Landscape with the most advanced Point of Sale terminal’’.

According to him, to have the inclusion needed, there is need for a combination of human interaction with digital interface.

“This digital interface will lead to moving beyond the traditional methods of banking; bringing banking to customers’ doorsteps; use of artificial intelligence; paperless documentation and others.

“This is a stepping stone for inclusion as it will build a robust agency network, financial independence, inclusion of women and making lives simple and seamless,’’ he said.

He added that FinTech was the future as it would ensure quicker settlement, build trust with robust regulatory framework and inclusive growth and opportunities.

Mehta listed the benefits of the point of sale to the economy as faster reach to the unbanked, job creation, leading to expansion, bridging gaps and others.

He said that soon, its organisation would be assembling the terminals in the country, making it affordable.

Ronke Kuye, Managing Director, Shared Agent Network Expansion Facility (SANEF), said that agent banking was pivotal to financial inclusion and could be well achieved through shared network.

She spoke on the topic: “Ubiquitous Customer Touchpoints: The Agent Banking Benchmarks for Scale’’.

According to her, there is a call to widen and deepen financial access points and services for the purpose of increasing financial inclusion to 80 per cent by 2020.

“This call has led to SANEF pushing to ensure that the objective of establishing it is actualised.

“There is need to have 500,000 financial access points and agents; introduce frills products; ensure financial literacy and campaign awareness; collaborate with stakeholders; have interoperable technology platform; and favourable pricing,’’ she said.

Kuye listed some of the challenges hindering their work which they were tackling.

He said the challenges include: the cumbersome process of BVN enrolment, low proximity to financial access point, high cost to serve agents, high cost of transactions and others.

Mrs Jacqueline Jumah, Managing Director, Intermarc Consulting, called for more focus on user’s experience and innovations that would drive adoption and long-term account usage, especially for middle and low-income segments.

According to her, the failure to optimise customer value proposition has caused increasing concerns whether financial inclusion is sustainable or whether financial service providers can deliver financial inclusion through commercially-viable business.

“Transformative innovations in technology can drastically drive presence and scale when offering financial services, opening doors to the unbanned and under-banked populations.

“The tremendous role that Digital Financial Services (DFS) can play for financial inclusion is well welcomed around the globe.

“ Regulators have continuously sought to unlock this potential by creating evolving enabling environment.

“Thus, financial inclusion, at its most basic level, starts with having an account (financial institution account or mobile money wallet) but it does not stop there; people can fully benefit when there is regular usage,” she said.

Jumah said that this year’s Digital PayExpo Conference and Exhibition seeks to answer the questions of whether financial inclusion is justified from a business perspective and whether there is a market in the unbanked market segments.

-NAN

BE

– July 9, 2019 @ 15:15 GMT

 

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