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Access Bank Grows Closa Agents to 100,000

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Access Closa Agents

By Adedapo Adesanya

A top financial institution, Access Bank Plc, says it has commissioned and empowered 100,000 Access Closa Agents to provide more than banking services to its existing and new customers.

This was disclosed by the Executive Director, Retail Banking, Mr Victor Etuokwu in a statement in Lagos.

He said that this was part of the bank’s commitment to delivering banking services to Nigerians.

“With the current number of Access Closa Agents spread across the 774 Local Government Areas in the country, the bank has significantly grown access to finance and banking services to millions of previously under-banked Nigerians.

“It is providing alternate streams of income for MSMEs, promoting financial literacy and advancing its ambition to bank one in every two Nigerians by 2025,” he said.

Mr Etuokwu said the exponential growth of the bank’s agent network was in fulfilment of its promise to ensure easier and safer access to financial services for every Nigerian.

He said, “As a bank driven by innovation, we must deliver better outcomes for customers in terms of speed, security, and service to enhance the customer experience in all the locations that we operate.

“With the recent achievement of hitting a 100,000 milestone of Access Closa Agents, customers and non-customers of the bank who are travelling for business, events, or to visit loved ones in any location in Nigeria will continue to enjoy uninterrupted banking services.

“Our Closa Agents are available in several rural and semi-urban locations across the country.”

The bank’s Senior Advisor, Retail Banking, Mr Robert Giles, said the bank had a passion and commitment to broadening the opportunities and access to financial services for Nigerians and Africans, irrespective of their locations.

He said customers could locate a Closa Agent near them by simply searching for Access Closa Agent on Google Maps on their phones instead of walking long distances in search of a branch.

“With over 100,000 agent locations spread across every neighbourhood in the country, we are making sure our existing customers and potential customers can enjoy seamless banking services close to where they live and work.

“This is done in a safe and convenient manner by offering basic financial services such as account opening, cash withdrawal, cash deposit, and bill payments.

“Our continuously growing agent network is increasingly making the need to visit a bank branch unnecessary for everyone.

“We are committed to being at the forefront of providing digital financial services in Nigeria,” Mr Giles said.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Banking

Access Bank Deploys Strategies to Dominate Agency Banking

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Access Closa

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Tier-one financial institution in Nigeria, Access Bank Plc, is not resting on its oars despite recently hitting a milestone of having 100,000 banking agents spread across the country.

The lender is planning to dominate agency banking business in Nigeria and to achieve this, it wants to further increase its footprint by having a minimum of 50 agents in each of the 774 LGAs across the country.

According to the bank, this is part of efforts to deepen financial inclusion, increase its customer base and deepen the wallet share of the banking population through the Access Closa agency banking platform.

In a chat with newsmen recently, the Group Head of Agency Banking at Access Bank, Ms Chizoba Iheme, noted that due to the limited number of financial institutions, especially in rural areas, Access Closa is Access Bank’s strongest retail channel used in providing banking services to a large population of unserved and underserved Nigerians.

“Our plan is to bank one in two Nigerians as this will see us increase our customer base and deepen our wallet share of the banking population.

“Going by the high youth and adult population, the resources of Nigeria’s financial institutions are being overstretched in providing physical and human resources and were unable to cope with gaps that existed in meeting banking needs of Nigerians hence the need for Agency Banking as envisaged by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2013,” Ms Iheme was quoted as saying in a statement from the lender on Wednesday.

“Therefore, agency banking helps financial institutions decongest crowded branches by providing a matching and more often convenient channel for their customers. In instances where reaching customers in rural areas is often highly expensive for financial institutions because transaction numbers and volumes do not cover the cost of a branch, agency banking helps in serving them,” she added.

The banker said becoming an agent has become a means to empower and reduce unemployment in Nigeria, noting that, “Our commission structure allows an agent to earn up to N500,000 and more monthly in commission including incentives and opportunities for agents to grow their business and partner with a reputable brand is an attraction to the Closa brand.”

Furthermore, on risks associated with agency banking in the country and how Access Banks moves to mitigate it, she added: “There are four major risks that we have identified. These are technological, legal, and fraud/reputational assets.

“Technological Risk, to prevent software and hardware failures, the bank is investing in new infrastructure with the capacity to absorb service disruptions that will have minimal impact. As part of our onboarding process, the bank’s agents are required to execute a service agreement that stipulates the roles and responsibilities of each party.”

“Also, agents are trained at the point of activation on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Terrorism Financing. This training also takes place every year to reiterate the dangers and consequences associated with fraudulent actions.

“Besides, the bank has set a maximum daily limit on the amount and frequency of transactions that can be performed by an agent. Lastly, a quarterly risk profiling exercise is carried out on all agents for effective management,” Ms Iheme added.

Access Bank is the leading retail bank in Nigeria with over 600 branches and more than 40 million customers. The bank offers products and services tailored to suit the lifestyle of every Nigerian irrespective of age and demographic.

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Banking

Ecobank Clinches ‘Excellence in Fintech-Banking Relationships’ Award

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Ecobank Business Account

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Another feather has been added to the well-decorated cap of Ecobank Group as it recently clinched the Excellence in Fintech-Banking Relationships award at the Africa Fintech Summit.

The lender received this accolade in Washington DC, United States of America (USA) in recognition of its activities to support and facilitate fintech growth on the African continent.

The Group Executive, Operations & Technology, Ecobank, Mr Tomisin Fashina, who received the award on behalf of the bank, attributed the recognition to the pan-African bank’s unparalleled influence in Africa and its unwavering support and numerous initiatives aimed at fostering relationships with fintechs to jointly win in the marketing place, stressing that the bank has put structures and initiatives in place to collaborate and cooperate with fintechs to facilitate the bank’s vision of financial integration of Africa.

“As a bank, one of our strategic objectives is to bank 100 million Africans, across Africa. We won’t go out there with account opening documents to do this. We believe we can achieve that by collaborating and cooperating across the board, and the fintechs come into that space.

“We came out with Ecobank as a service, this is at the heart of why we published our sandbox to encourage fintechs, big techs and any player that wants to do business in Africa to ride on our platforms and help facilitate our vision of a financially integrated Africa. We see ourselves as a key player in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and we believe we are the ultimate bank to facilitate trade across Africa,” he said.

The Africa Fintech Summit is a global knowledge-sharing platform that connects innovators, regulators and entrepreneurs, facilitating conversations and partnerships that help them explore financial technology solutions to improve African individuals, economies and societies.

It is held twice a year in Washington DC and a selected African country and sees stakeholders from around the world assemble to chart a progressive course for fintech in Africa by mobilizing investments, hashing out enabling policies, and sharing growth strategies.

The programme, which was the seventh edition, also recognized TeamApt for Excellence in Digital Banking, PiggyVest- Excellence in Savings and InvestTech, Flutterwave-Excellence in Fintech Infrastructure, while Excellence in Blockchain Technology went to Appzone Group. Others are Excellence in Fintech investment – Future Africa, Excellence in Cryptocurrency – Paxful, Excellence in Ecosystem Research – Briter Bridges, Excellence in Cross-border Solutions – PAPSS, Excellence in Payments – Paystack, Excellence in InsurTech – Turaco, Excellence in Fintech and Lending – Payhippo, Excellence in Embedded Fintech – Cellulant and Excellence in TradeTech – AFEX.

Ecobank has many initiatives to support the growth of fintechs on the continent. The Ecobank Fintech Challenge launched in 2017 identifies and partners with fintechs that are ready to scale, providing them with mentoring, networking, support, and opportunities to access Ecobank’s 33 African markets, as well as opportunities to integrate with existing Ecobank digital offerings. This has recorded significant results and success stories since its inception.

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Banking

Court Orders CBN, NDIC to Pay 1,116 Bank Workers N5.7bn

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CBN IMTOs

By Adedapo Adesanya

The National Industrial Court has ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) to pay over N5.7 billion as terminal benefits to over 1,116 bank workers affected by the re-capitalisation exercise of 2006.

The money is to be paid within three months from the date of judgment as failure to adhere to this will attract 10 per cent interest until liquidated.

Justice Paul Bassi, at the court sitting in Lagos on Monday, made the order while delivering judgment in the case filed by the 1,116 claimants who had approached the court since 2018.

The court also ordered the CBN and the NDIC to pay another N10 million as general damages to the claimants.

The ruling settles the battle that the parties have fought since the consolidation exercise of 2006 which saw banks recapitalised from N2 billion to N25 billion.

Some banks did not meet the recapitalisation requirements and this led to their banking licenses being revoked by the central bank which appointed the NDIC as the liquidator.

The bank workers then sued the two organisations demanding the payment of their terminal benefits.

The two defendants raised several objections, insisting among other things they were not the employers of the workers and the suit disclosed no cause of action against them.

In his judgment, Justice Bassi dismissed the preliminary objections of the defendants and held while they may have acted for the general good by raising the capital base of banks in the country, it should not be done at the expense of the former employees.

By revoking the banking licenses of the non-consolidated banks, the defendants interfered with the employment contracts of the bank workers, a contract which would ordinarily have run its natural course with the claimants paying their benefits at the end.

The court then ordered the CBN and the NDIC to pay the workers within three months from the date of judgment failing which it will attract 10 per cent interest until liquidated.

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