IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today announced it signed an advisory services agreement with Firstmonie, a subsidiary of First Bank Nigeria Limited, to advance mobile financial services and agent banking in order to strengthen the supply of affordable financial services to low-income individuals and small-scale entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
IFC will provide Firstmonie with technical assistance in financial modeling, agent management and customer activation, to a value of $550,000, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Mr. Mike Ogbalu, Managing Director of Pridar Systems (wholly owned by FirstBank), the owners of Firstmonie, said, At Firstmonie, we are committed to expanding mobile financial services to the under banked and low income communities. With the advisory support from IFC, we hope to achieve our goal of boosting financial inclusion through our product offerings and decrease the population of the unbanked and under-banked in Nigeria
Nigeria has a low rate of financial inclusion, with only 43% of the adult population having access to formal financial services. The Central Bank of Nigeria issued licenses for mobile money operators in 2010, but adoption and usage has been slow to take off due to high costs, poor agent network management and low awareness amongst the population.
David Crush, Manager, IFC Access to Finance, Sub-Saharan Africa, said, Firstmonie and IFC aim to develop a best practice mobile money operation that will demonstrate the sustainable business case for affordable financial services in one of Africa s most important economies. This is a step towards reaching full financial inclusion in Nigeria.
Firstmonie Mobile Money Service is an innovative product that enables customers to access financial and other value added services through their mobile phones.