How Accion MfB is leveraging technology to promote financial inclusion
The advent of technology is widely appreciated as it is transforming the way businesses operate and deliver products to consumers across many industries.
As it were, the banking industry, especially the microfinance bank sub-sector is not left out in this digital space as many of these institutions are leveraging technology to reach more customers.
Accion Microfinance Bank (MfB) last week brought together critical stakeholders to deliberate on the options and opportunities of achieving the goal of empowering over 190 million Nigerians to have their destiny in their hands and actually live a much better life.
The stakeholders who gathered at the annual financial inclusion seminar discussed extensively on digitisation as a tool for deepening financial inclusion and the role of regulation.
“For us at Accion financial inclusion is not just a theme, terminology, it is about really changing life positively”, Patrick Akinwuntan, chairman, board of directors, Accion MfB said.
Consequently, the bank is leveraging the mobile phone to reach more people through its USSD number, *572#.
“We are rolling out agency. We are rolling out branches. We have extended the number of states we are in. we are present in the North, East, and west. We are a national microfinance bank entity. We are really deepening our reach and our goal is using *572# to be present in every household in Nigeria”, Akinwuntan said.
Akinwuntan stressed the need for collaboration among stakeholders to achieve 80 percent financial inclusion target by 2020.
“It is possible to achieve the goal in 2020, technology allows us to leapfrog. Things are not done over 10 years anymore. Things are done at the speed of thought. If you want to communicate today and you send something on whatsApp, it gets to everybody within the next five minutes. That was not possible 10 years ago. We need to bring financial inclusion to that level, ease of access, ease of service, reliability and at a low cost”, Akinwuntan said.
Responding to question on meeting the new capital requirement for microfinance banks by the CBN recently, Akinwuntan said, “We are fully ready. We have grown our business. We are actually very close to the N5 billion already in terms of the capital that we have currently, running the bank. We are much ready and we have been in full compliance from day one”.
Taiwo Joda, managing director/CEO, said by first quarter of 2019, the bank will be coming out with fully digitised product.
“Accion MFB is set ready to leverage financial technology. It is not that we are going to start. Actually 80 percent of our activities on our platforms are already automated, from our loan creation, appraisal to loan disbursement, are fully automated”, Joda said.
Accion Microfinance Bank has very reputable shareholders like Ecobank, Zenith Bank, Citi Bank, IFC and Accion international as shareholders.
However, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is working on introducing agent solutions that will enable microfinance banks operating in the country to deploy new services via agents.
This move is part efforts to encourage microfinance banks to embrace and promote financial inclusion in the sub-sector.
Tokunbo Martins, director, Other Financial Institutions Supervision (OFIS) department of CBN disclosed this at the 2018 annual financial inclusion seminar organised by Accion Microfinance Bank Limited, in Lagos.
Represented by Haruna Bala Mustafa, deputy director, OFIS, she said the capital requirements of microfinance banks was reviewed upwards to strengthen and to ensure that the banks are robust and well positioned to support financial inclusion.
“We are committed to ensure we push financial inclusion vigorously. We intend to reach 80 percent financial inclusion by the year 2020”, she said at the seminar with the theme, ‘digitisation as a tool for deepening financial inclusion and the role of regulation’.