For Nigerian farmers, a new revolution is in the offing as the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and Cellulant of Kenya sign a deal to provide mobile banking services to Nigerian farmers in a fresh push for financial inclusion among the rural populace.
About 39 million adult Nigerians representing about 46% of the nation’s adult population have no bank accounts. The Managing Director of the bank, Dr. Mohammed Santuraki, said while signing the agreement on behalf of his organization, in Abuja, last week, that with over 105 million active mobile telephone lines in Nigeria, the project, named “cocoon”, would transform the lives of the farmers when operational.
His words, “mobile Money services are the next frontier of financial services in Nigeria. This is because of its effectiveness in enhancing financial access, which despite our relatively developed banking system, has been a national challenge given the large size of our population over a very large land mass.
“From about 2006 to 2009, Kenya, Cellulant’s home-base and also Africa’s most developed mobile financial services market, grew its financial inclusion from about 26% to 40% mainly driven by Mobile Money services. That is a growth of about 54%. “In Nigeria about 39 million Nigerians representing about 46% of the nation’s adult population are financially excluded. That means, only about 25 million Nigerians, about 30% have bank accounts. However, Nigeria has about 105 million active mobile telephone lines at August 2012. “Therein lies the scale of opportunities for mobile money services in financial inclusion in Nigeria, because mobile phone lines can serve as a virtual banking /payment card, a point of sale terminal, an ATM, and even an internal banking terminal”.
Dr. Santuraki stated that the new mobile money service being introduced by the bank was part of the on-going transformation of the bank with a view to making it more efficient in service delivery and to achieve the objectives of its establishment. “The new channels that Mobile Money Services offer shall be used to support and enhance BOA’s core mandates of agricultural and rural enterprises credit delivery and rural savings mobilization. “In addition, MMS would broaden BOA’s service/channel offerings to include money transfer, bill payments, mobile banking, micro-insurance payments, mobile wallets, and Agency Banking”, he said.
The MD explained further that his team was transforming Bank of Agriculture through three strategies: modernization, optimizing internal efficiencies as a financial institution and reviewing its operating model while enhancing employee capacity. According to him, “we are repositioning BOA to be more socioeconomically impactful in a more financially sustainable manner.