In its quest to deepen financial inclusion, FirstBank is channelling its resources to reach those at the bottom of the pyramid through its agency banking. The tier-one bank has over 31,000 agents spread across Nigeria with 9,000 assigned to provide financial services to the highly excluded Northern region.
According to Adesola Adeduntan, the MD/CEO, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, the bank took it upon itself as part of their strategic plan to be the bank that can be the right partner to the CBN and the government by helping to achieve the right social impact.
“If there is that bank on ground to help the country to address the seeming geographical gap in terms of financial inclusion, it is FirstBank, because we are already doing a lot,” Adeduntan said.
With over 125 years of unbroken existence in Nigeria, the lender has the largest branch network in Nigeria with over 750 branches spread across the country. Nigeria has an exclusion rate of 36.8% as at December 2018; this translates to about 36.6 million Nigerian adults who are not included in the formal financial net.
The Central Bank of Nigeria plans to ensure it drive that number to 20% by the year 2020. But with less than five months to the deadline, the regulator has about 16.8% exclusion gap.
“So with over 31,000 agents and 750 branches spread across all the LGAs in Nigeria, FirstBank is indeed a front runner at not just providing banking to all Nigerians but importantly improving their respective businesses and developing the Nigerian economy,” Adeduntan noted.
According to Emeka Onwuka, CEO, Parkway Project, a Lagos-based Fintech company known for its popular ReadyCash product, when it comes to financial inclusion, the distribution is really “where we have the problem.”