By PETER EGWUATU & MICHAEL EBOH
The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has been called upon to fast track the commencement of agency banking in Nigeria, by urgently setting out the appropriate modalities for its establishment.
Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, CIBN, Special Associates (ACIB) Induction for the pioneering graduates of the Chartered Bank MBA, Mr. Laoye Jaiyeola, immediate past President of the CIBN, said the commencement of agency banking will help further the financial inclusion strategy of the CBN and help drive penetration of banking services to the rural areas.
According to him, to facilitate the effective implementation of the proposed regime and achievement of the objective of financial inclusion, the CBN should brace up and train those to take up such responsibility.
He said the CBN has the responsibility of ensuring that whoever is going to be incorporated into the agency banking and financial inclusion campaign, must be adequately mobilised, be appropriately coordinated and registered, adding that this must be included in the guidelines.
He, however, suggested that like it is done in most countries, those banks will enter into an agency relationship with competent institutions that will do those works at the local communities, while banks and other financial institutions under the CBN’s purview would be made to comply with laws guiding the system.
Also speaking, Mr. Okechukwu Unegbu, former President of the CIBN, said agency banking as a means to attain financial inclusion is a vital aspect that CBN must improve upon.
He, however, emphasised the need for the CBN to focus on micro finance banks because the sector has the potential to cater for the needs of the grassroot populace unlike the conventional banks.
He said, “CBN should develop the micro finance bank sector if it hopes to achieve the goals of the financial inclusion programme. To this end, the CBN strategy of closing the microfinance banks should be discontinued, instead it should extend the support shown conventional banks to microfinance banks also.
“The micro finance bank sector had problem not because they have not done well but due to the prevailing economic situation. Instead of closing them, they can support them by giving them more time to raise their capital or support them the same way they are dealing with the capital market presently.
“This is the only area you can go into and financial inclusion will be a very big success otherwise there will be problem as they understand the local environment better.”
Also, the Chairman House Committee on Banking and Currency, Mr. Jones Onyereri noted that agent banking is best for the economy, adding that to start its operation, stakeholders need to look deep into areas that will pose obstruction of any form and deal with this issue first.
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