Some months back, everyone was hit with a pandemic not experienced before in a long while, affecting a lot of businesses and families. The Corona Virus a.k.a COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives completely.
Who would have thought that there will be a day we will be isolated in our homes or have curfews going out and back? Who would have thought that companies will be forced to implement remote working models, or have most companies closed down permanently due to the effect of the pandemic? Who would have thought that banks will not be open for operations or change opening hours from 10 am to 2 pm only to key customers?
These questions and more come to mind. For what it’s worth, this has taught Nigeria (and the world at large) a lesson to always be ready for any crisis at any given time.
COVID-19 is a test of time for many and most especially the financial sector. More recently, the focus of the Federal Government has been to drive financial inclusion and deepen the penetration of financial services in places that are underbanked and unbanked. Now, with the emergence of the pandemic, this makes it even harder; people keeping a physical distance from each other thereby making it hard to bank more unbanked people.
Now the critical question is how do we achieve financial inclusion despite the pandemic, as Covid-19 cases increase daily and nothing can be predicted right now because policies, strategies, and laws will be affected as well.
This impact of Covid19 has reduced the need to frequently visit the banking hall to perform basic transactions, one day you might just wake up and realize that the banks could be closed for the meantime or just opened for less than the hour that it is currently open for. In such a scenario, agent banking, comprising a network of banking agents who act as physical bank branches, is the answer.
Agent Banking means providing limited scale banking and financial services to the underserved population through engaged agents under a valid agency agreement, rather than a teller/ cashier. It is the owner of an outlet who conducts banking transactions on behalf of a bank.
The adoption of Agency banking will play an important role in the coming years for financial inclusion. Acting as “proxy banks”, agents will provide individuals and small businesses with the financial services they need to stimulate local development and economic growth.
Also due to this, the previously unbanked and underbanked customers now have easy access to a financial institution near them and The banks will be able to expand their customer base by onboarding new customers who were previously out of their reach.
Due to the COVID-19, it might be difficult for these agents to perform some KYC activities like they normally do. However, going digital will eliminate any atom of fear and stress. With a Data Capture and Identity Management platform, agency bankers can easily perform their KYC activities hassle-free. This way data is managed efficiently and allows the agents to perform multiple tasks with ease.
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