By Bolatito Adebola
In this COVID-19 era where movement is restricted in some major parts of the world – including Nigeria – with many Banks and business reengineering efforts to improve the adaptability of their customers to electronic ways of carrying out business, Firstmonie Agents, an agent banking initiative from First Bank of Nigeria Limited is bridging the gaps and helping people to meet their needs of accessing the funds to buy food items and groceries as well as to send money to their loved ones.
This is one of the many measures by the premier financial institution in Nigeria to support the need to promote social distancing and the reduction of physical interactions of people in large numbers, thereby guarding against the spread of the coronavirus.
FirstBank introduced this innovative channel three years ago, with the aim of bringing banking to close those who live in the rural areas and to every Nigerian -regardless of where they are in the country.
Firstmonie Agents also ensure individuals in the suburbs do not have to travel for long hours to the city for their banking activities. The gap between the tech-savvy and the low literacy clients has been bridged as Firstmonie Agent network represents the convenient and comfortable alternative for customers that are unacquainted with the sophisticated digital channels.
With over 53,000 Firstmonie Agents spread across 99% Local Government Areas in the country, the laudable initiative by FirstBank is another way to bank – without visiting a Bank – which allows you to make cash deposit, transfer money to any bank and enjoy other banking services like bills payment and purchase of recharge card amongst others.
Recently, Halima, a FirstBank customer who is a housewife and petty trader, residing in a remote area in Abuja expressed her delight on the Firstmonie Agent initiative as she was able to easily get cash from an agent nearby to procure groceries for herself and her three children. Her bank being far away in Garki was too far to visit to get money. Thanks to Firstmonie which she discovered through her co-tenant, her joy knew no bounds as Halima was able to access her money at the Firstmonie Agent outlet close to her, as well as send money to her mother in far away, Maiduguri in Borno State.
Another customer in Lagos, Adeoye, a civil servant also lauded this brilliant initiative from FirstBank and narrated his experience when he visited the stand of Firstmonie in Ojota area of Ogudu, Lagos. He explained that he was able to do his transaction with ease.
According to Mrs. Sadia Folorunsho, she said ‘I did not know FirstBank has this wonderful service within my area as it actually saved my family from hunger as I was able to perform banking activities without being in the bank,’ she stated.
These are what the management of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, led by its CEO, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan has been able to make available well ahead of time, since no one knew there might be a pandemic that will warrant a lockdown.
Its Firstmonie Agents at every nook and cranny in Nigeria has been able to remove the burden from the shoulders of Nigerians and allow many to carry out several transactions at Firstmonie Agent locations, within close proximity of their home.
Firstmonie Agent banking is a channel specifically designed by FirstBank to bring financial services closer to the unbanked and underbanked segment of the society whilst promoting existing businesses within the communities to deliver their services and contribute to the growth and development of the economy.
With the spread of its Agent Banking network, FirstBank has been able to indirectly create over 150,000 jobs as the Firstmonie Agents have had to employ the services of other individuals to build their businesses and meet the financial needs of individuals in its community.
So far, the Bank has deepened financial inclusion through Firstmonie Agents with 237.3 million transactions processed through the network at a monetary value of over 4.08 Trillion Naira.