The World Bank through its subsidiary the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has announced a partnership with First Bank of Nigeria’s Firstmonie to advance mobile money services in Nigeria.
In a statement, IFC said it signed an advisory services agreement with Firstmonie to strengthen the supply of affordable financial services to low-income individuals and small-scale entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
Under the agreement, IFC will provide Firstmonie with technical assistance in financial modelling, agent management and customer activation valued at US$550,000 to be funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Mike Ogbalu, managing director of Pridar Systems, 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 underbanked in Nigeria.”
Nigeria has a low rate of financial inclusion, with only 43 per cent of the adult population having access to formal financial services. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) 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.”