Nigeria has a low rate of financial inclusion, with only 43% of the adult population having access to formal financial services. In 2010, the Central Bank of Nigeria issued licenses for mobile money operators but adoption and usage has not increased due to high costs, poor agent network management and low awareness amongst the population.
Now, World Bank Group’s IFC and Firstmonie, a subsidiary of First Bank Nigeria Limited have signed an agreement to advance mobile financial services and agent banking in order to strengthen the supply of affordable financial services to low-income individuals and small-scale entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
In a statement, David Crush, Manager, IFC Access to Finance, Sub-Saharan Africa, said, “Firstmonie and IFC aim to develop a best practice mobile money operation that will demonstrate the sustainable business case for affordable financial services in one of Africa’s most important economies. This is a step towards reaching full financial inclusion in Nigeria.”
The deal will see IFC provide Firstmonie with technical assistance in financial modeling, agent management and customer activation, to a value of $550,000, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Mr. Mike Ogbalu, Managing Director of Pridar Systems (wholly owned by FirstBank), the owners of Firstmonie, said, “Firstmonie, is committed to expanding mobile financial services to the under banked and low income communities. With the advisory support from IFC, we hope to achieve our goal of boosting financial inclusion through our product offerings and decrease the population of the unbanked and under-banked in Nigeria”
Firstmonie Mobile Money Service enables customers to access financial and other value added services through their mobile phones.
Last week, TIGO Ghana has signed a $2 million deal with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the MasterCard Foundation for customer awareness and acquisition in a move expected to see expand mobile financial services in Ghana.