Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA), a financial sector development organisation has announced the release of an Innovation Grant in the sum of $2,000,000 (Two million US Dollars only), to support First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited with its “Group Lending and Agency Banking” project, which provides financial services and access to credit facilities for the financially excluded population.
FCMB Group Lending project is a digitized credit and savings solution, which facilitates instant account opening with debit card issuance for online real time transactions, driven by Point of Sale (POS) and mobile devices. The EFInA Innovation Grant will enable FCMB extend facilities to prospective customers in twelve states – Bauchi, Kaduna, Sokoto, Niger, Kwara, Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Cross River and Abia States.
Speaking on the Grant, the Chief Executive Officer of EFInA, Chidinma Lawanson, stated that, “According to the EFInA Access to Financial Services in Nigeria 2014 survey, 42.7% of the total female population is financially excluded, compared to 35.8% of the total male population. To this effect, the FCMB Group Lending project seeks to drive financial inclusion by targeting low-income women and micro business owners directly through digital financial services and agent banking.”
Furthermore, she said, “The project is estimated to impact over 200,000 customers, by providing them with a minimum loan of N30,000 per beneficiary, including a compulsory savings element of the loan which will deepen the savings culture among the financially excluded population. In line with EFInA’s focus to increase access to financial products and services to the low income population, especially women, the project is also designed to empower women by recruiting female agents in the target communities”.
According to Ladi Balogun, Group Managing Director/CEO of First City Monument Bank (FCMB), “Through this project, the low income population will be provided with access to credit, savings and other value added services such as funds transfers and bill payments. The Group lending project will drive financial inclusion by increasing access to financial products and bring financial services closer to the unbanked adult population: through the deployment of agents in communities without financial service providers”.
“The project will be highly driven by technology to create a distinct offering from other existing micro lending businesses. The automation of loan processing, disbursement and repayment via POS/Mobile solutions will ensure an efficient and swift loan disbursement and collection process”. He added.
Through this innovation grant, EFInA aims to promote financial inclusion through market development by enabling provision of appropriate financial products and services at an affordable price to micro business owners and those who are currently financially excluded.