Number of banking agents (third party retail outlets contracted by financial institutions to process clients’ transactions) rose from 38, 416 agents in December 2018 to 236,940 agents as of December 2019.
This growth in the burgeoning segment amounts to a 517 per cent increase in a year. It had earlier ballooned by over three folds to surpass 38,000 agents between 2017 and 2018.
The information is contained in the 2019 National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) document released by the Central Bank of Nigeria on Wednesday.
NIFS was established eight years ago to provide a strategic framework to reduce the percentage of adult Nigerians without access to financial services from 46.3 per cent it stood in 2010 to 20 per cent this year.
The apex bank listed barriers to financial inclusion to include distance, eligibility, low financial literacy, poverty, and high cost of service. It noted that the challenges were being circumvented by aggressive digital, mobile, and agent banking approaches.
The agent banking campaign has led to phenomenal adoption in recent years. The number of agents ballooned from 11,104 or 10.7 agents per 1000 adult Nigerians in 2017 to 38,416 (38.6 agents per 1000 adults) in 2018.
Last year, the figure jumped further to 236,940 (228.8 agents per 1000 adults). There were 236, 940 unique agents spread across the 774 local government areas in Nigeria as of December 2019.
This was higher than the number of agents in 2018 at 83,560 (excluding 38,416 agents not under Shared Agent Network Expansion Facilities (SANEF) supervision).
SANEF also onboarded two additional licensed super agents within the period, bringing the total number to nine super agents in December 2019.