As part of its Retail Banking strategy, Unity Bank recently rolled out its Agent banking services in the North Western states of Kano and Jigawa, as a vehicle to reach out to the unbanked and deepen financial inclusion.
In line with Central Bank of Nigeria’s financial inclusion mandate, Unity Bank targeted its Agent Banking services at Gumel in Jigawa State, and Rijiya-Lemu in Fagge Local Government area of Kano State, last week.
According to the General Manager, Products & Channels Directorate, Unity Bank, Bonaventure Okhaimo, prioritising the North West was borne out of the need to tap into the huge unbanked population in the region.
Agent Banking is conceptualised to evolve as a model of community and rural banking, where basic banking services are brought to the level of rural financial activities, explained Bonaventure.
The roll-out, which witnessed the opening of many Agency outlets in the areas, was attended by numerous locals, customers, and prospects, who were all excited to be able to avail themselves of financial services without travelling long distances to a bank branch.
The customers were able to open accounts with Unity Bank, perform cash-in (deposit), cash-out (withdrawal) as well as bills payment transactions at the new Agent Banking outlets.
With the bank’s digital account opening portal – Unity1 Online, new tier-1 accounts can be opened for customers without any need for identification. The whole process takes less than four minutes. Customers are advised of their NUBAN account numbers immediately, and are able to start transacting straightaway; in fact, once they provide their Bank Verification Numbers (BVN), they have full access to their accounts.
The Bank’s Group Head, Retail & SME Banking, Olufunwa Akinmade, explained that an important part of the roll-out in any location is a two-day customer education session organised to bring customers up to speed with the basic tenets of the scheme.
On the security of the customers’ funds, Akinmade said the mitigant on the withdrawal side is that the service is running on MCash – a secure phone-based withdrawal system backed by the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS). At the deposit end, the customer must receive an alert to be sure that the transaction had been consummated. This is in line with CBN regulation, which states that all transactions are processed online real-time.