FirstBank’s Agent Credit Program as a Promoter of Business Expansion and Economic Growth – Blueprint Newspapers Limited
In its efforts to enhance its role of impacting the country’s economy, FirstBank of Nigeria has established Agent Credit Scheme to promote and grow the business of FirstMonie agents in the country. AMAKA IFEAKANDU writes about the impact of the program on promoting financial inclusion and the growth of the national economy in general.
First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s leading provider of financial inclusion, has continued to promote financial inclusion and the growth of the national economy, despite the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy.
The bank established Agent Credit Scheme (ACS) to strengthen its resolve to deepen financial inclusion in nooks and crannies of the country through its Firstmonie agents operating in 99% of the country’s 774 local government areas.
The program was set up specifically by the bank to promote and develop the commercial activities of its Firstmonie agents, while giving them the advantage of contributing positively to the growth of the national economy.
Agent banking, according to the bank, is a channel used to bring financial services closer to the unbanked and underbanked segment of society by enabling existing businesses within the communities to provide these services.
Reason for creating the Agent Credit Program
Basically, the Agent Credit Program was created to promote and grow the business activities of its main agent banking platform – Firstmonie Agents – while empowering them to have a positive impact on their immediate environment. The Credit Program is a digital lending solution designed to provide bridge funding to help First Bank agents address liquidity issues resulting from depleted account balances, even when agents have physical cash. The agent can access this fund, pending cash deposit at the nearest branch of the bank.
The loan amount that agents will access is 25% of the average daily credit turnover for a period of three months, subject to a maximum loan amount of N1 million. The loan will attract a duration of 24 hours during weekdays and a maximum of 72 hours or the next working day during weekends and holidays.
Before accessing the loan, the agent must have had an account relationship with FirstBank for at least three months while the interest rate remains fixed at 0.3% on the amount disbursed. The agent will pay Keyman Insurance N1,000 per year with a minimum loan amount of N20,000. The agent will also have a positive credit check and a satisfactory KYC report.
Agents, according to the bank, will receive up to N1 million to fund more transactions and will have access to funds before depositing cash at the branch. The fund will be available for use every day, including peak periods – weekdays, weekends and holidays. The loan provides an opportunity for business expansion and increased income.
The target market consists of agents who have been active in the Bank’s agent network for at least three months.
With the establishment of the Agent Credit Scheme, First Bank’s FirstMonie agents have maintained and expanded their business across the country.
For example, the number of Firstmonie officers has increased from 120,000 in July last year to 150,023 as of December 9, 2021, spread across 772 of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria.
Firstmonie agents on board currently stand at 63,684 while the volume and value of transactions made by the agents since their inception till December 9, 2021 reached N817.7 million and N17.51 trillion respectively.
The bank recently endowed its Firstmonie agents with N100 billion.
In 2021, the bank recognized 37 agents who have promoted financial inclusion in the country during the national Firstmonie Agents award. The award was part of the bank’s commitment to fostering financial inclusion nationwide.
With the expansion of agent business, Firstmonie agents are widely described as “human ATMs” empowered to reduce reliance on over-the-counter transactions while providing convenient personalized services. Firstmonie agents were equipped to perform services including account opening; cash deposit; buying airtime; payment of bills; withdrawals and transfer of money.
Firstmonie agents have contributed significantly to promoting access to financial and banking services in areas where the banking presence is weak or non-existent.
First Bank’s perspective on attribution
Speaking at the bank’s National Banking Agent Awards, FirstBank Managing Director Dr Adesola Adeduntan said the Firstmonie agent network is a bespoke channel through which the bank expresses its unwavering commitment and his passion for promoting opportunities and access to financial services by every Nigerian, especially within the low-income segment.
The Firstmonie Agent Banking Awards enabled the Bank – FirstBank – to recognize 37 leading agents who have promoted financial inclusion in the country. The sum of 250,000 naira was won at the state level by 31 agents; N1,000,000.00 regionally by 5 agents with the grand prize being the sum of N2,500,000.00 nationally.
Adeduntan explained that with this initiative, the gap between tech-savvy customers and low-literacy customers has been bridged, as the Firstmonie agent network represents the convenient and comfortable alternative for customers who are not familiar with channels. sophisticated digital.
The Bank’s perspective on the agent credit program
Reiterating the Bank’s role in deepening financial inclusion in the country, Chuma Ezirim, Group Head, E-Commerce and Retail Products, said, “We are really pleased with the tremendous impact of the agent credit on the performance of our Firstmonie agents nationwide.
“Since introducing agent credit to support our ‘human ATMs’, as we affectionately call our Firstmonie agents, they have seen immense business growth, to levels they never envisioned if not much time.
“Our main goal is to continue to provide financial services to underserved and unbanked populations, using modern technology to process transactions in real time and, in doing so, contribute to capacity building and learning new skills. in information technology, cash management and relationship management for our FirstMonie agents.
“We encourage our Firstmonie agents to continue to be exemplary in setting the tone to promote financial inclusion as we collectively work towards the continued growth and development of the national economy.”
While appreciating the work done by the agents, Ezirim said, “With our Firstmonie agents in every neighborhood, several communities have seen an increase in business and financial activity, which contributes to national growth and development.