By Oladipo Oluwatosin
In demonstration of its commitment to deepening financial inclusion in Nigeria, Firstbank Nigeria Limited recently held its maiden edition of Firstmonie Agent Awards to reward outstanding agents where about 37 leading agents smiled home with different prizes. 31 agents representing the states went home with N250, 000 each, 5 agents representing regional level went home with N1, 000, 000 each while the grand prize winner representing the national level went home with N2, 500, 000, bringing the total figure to N15, 000, 000 prize money splashed on the agents.
Speakingduring the Firstmonie Agent Banking national award ceremony, held recently in Lagos, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, the Chief Executive Officer, FirstBank, said that, the Firstmonie agent network is a bespoke channel through which the Bank expresses its unalloyed commitment and passion to promote opportunities and access to financial services by every Nigerian, especially within the low-income segment.
First Bank of Nigeria Limited is the leading financial institution in Nigeriapromoting financial inclusion across the country withover 37,000 Firstmonie Agents, present in 99% of the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria.
Adeduntan explained that with the initiative, the gap between the technology inclined and the low literacy customers has been breached as Firstmonie agent network becomes saving grace, convenient andcomfortable alternative for customers who are not inclined with the sophisticated digital channels.
Mr. Francis Shobo, the Deputy Managing Director, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, noted in his remarks, that the agents are the most critical part of the banking ecosystem because they take deposits, make payments and open accounts, provide transfers and sell airtime at locations with little or no access to financial services.
Shobo praised Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), for the role the apex bank has played, stating that the CBN has made a lot of changes in regulation around agency banking, “they have allowed the programme to scale as much as it has scaled.”
The grand prize winner at the national level from Abuja (North Central), Zayyanu Hassan Ishaq who won the cash prize of N2.5 million at the firstmonie agent award 2019 edition expressedhisprofound gratitude to the prize, tagged it a miracle from God and a catalyst to work harder.
“I want to thank FirstBank for this gesture. I never expected it, it took me unaware, this is a miracle. “FirstBank is truly different. This will spur me to work harder and ensure more people have access to the top-class financial services offered by FirstBank” Ishaq said joyfully.
Firstmonieagent initiative is a major breakthrough to reduce ‘money at pocket’ by moving financial services closer and simple to the people.
Benefits to the economy
Mrs. Yinka David- West from Lagos Business School said that, business is not about profit but changing life and properties. For the purpose of financial inclusion, employment and poverty alleviation, first Bank was able to empower 81,000 women and build firstmonie agent around the region and plans to expand to other African countries like Ghana, Congo, etc. to reduce poverty across the continent.
It is a major employer of labour across the nation now, that most transaction are digitalized to reduce money laundering and actualize the cashless policy projection.