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Our financial inclusion drive is for people in rural and semi-urban areas of Nigeria - First Bank Plc

The Bank's products are aimed at ensuring access to financial services to the underbanked population.

This is  to be achieved through development of innovative financial products that meet needs of the unbanked population in Nigeria. More so, the process would propel economic growth and engender better performance for the financial institution.

Mr Munachimaso Duru, the Team Lead of product design of First Bank Digital Lab, explained this during a panel session on financial inclusion at the ongoing Social Media Week 2018 titled: Banking the unbanked, on Monday, February 26, 2018.

He said the goal of the bank's is to serve the unbanked population through its innovative financial product of the bank. This, he noted, will increase savings and investment as well as drive economic growth in Nigeria.

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“First Bank is making moves to  serve as many as much many people in rural and semi-urban areas. We believe there are gaps in banking services which are offered to people living in the inter-land," he said.

"And we think it is unfair for people to travel to get access their fund or do basic banking operations, such paying bills or depositing money.”

“So, the financial product are designed to allow these people transact, make payments and save their money from the comfort of their homes, offices or even on their farmland."

According to recent statistics from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), about 46.3% of adult population of Nigeria don’t have access to financial services. Hence, many people still rely on informal financial services despite advances in technology.

Some of the reasons given for this situation include low trust level, low financial literacy level, low income, inflexible bank policies, low financial technology penetration level among others.

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As a result, the bank seeks to leverage both mobile technology penetration (USSD banking) and build a network of money agent to achieve this goal.

“We believe the mobile phone is serving a greater purpose beyond making calls and sending a text. It is now affording people opportunity to transaction businesses at their convenience."

"For us, we want to leverage this opportunity to reach as many as possible wherever they may be," Duru said.

“…in as much as there are high internet and smartphone penetrations in the country, we believe there is still need for human interactions. This may not be the kind of traditional banking that involves opening a branch but the agent network."

"We believe can still serve these people where they are. So in a certain sense, we are not trying to reinvent the wheel but meeting people where they are by providing needed financial services in the most affordable way for them.”

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The bank is also looking at increasing its money agent base from the current 300 to a thousand by mid-year (June) 2018.

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