At present, there are over 86,000 banking agents across 772 out of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria, a demonstration of FirstBank’s commitment to deepening financial inclusion and ensuring the unbanked are adequately catered for. In an interview with BusinessDay, Adesola Adeduntan, FirstBank’s CEO, noted that over N9.6 trillion had been processed through the bank’s agent network.
As he explained, FirstMonie agents have supported various government and NGOs’ cash transfers to the poorest of the poor in the rural areas. Additionally, selected FirstMonie agents in the rural communities are equipped with BVN enrolment devices; as such they are able to enroll and open accounts for rural dwellers that hitherto may not have had the opportunity to be included in the formal financial services system.
The bank’s commitment to providing access to finance for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) was also highlighted by the CEO, who hinged this on “their potential to impact the economy”.
He discussed the bank’s value-adding solutions that have created a functional ecosystem for SMEs to thrive. The ecosystem includes propositions such as the connection of the SMEs to talents and resources/cutting edge tools, access to business finance and market, capacity building opportunities, and policy advocacy.
These are all aggregated on its SMEConnect platform as value-adding products and services for easy access and at rates (prices) that are competitive and mostly discounted. The SMEConnect is a digital platform that allows SMEs to connect to FirstBank’s offerings from the comfort of their locations anywhere in the world.
This, according to Adeduntan, has been well received by the SME community as they engage across the country.