BY BUKOLA IDOWU |
With over 50,000 banking agents across the country, there remains a gap in servicing the financial needs of Nigerians. Also, many Nigerians have learned within the pandemic that transactions can be done without entering a banking hall, a situation made possible by banking agents.
Commercial banks and payment service providers are always in the market for agents and their offers are mostly interesting for individuals looking to invest in a business.
Managing director of Countryside Communications Limited, Johnson Okanlawon, a journalist-turned banking agent, has been in the business for 12 years and explains that it is one that requires little capital.
Things Needed To Start Agency Banking
As most banks are now into agency banking, all that is needed is to walk into your bank and request for an agency banking account. Depending on the availability of Point of Sale (PoS) terminal, and readiness of the agent, business can kick off within a couple of weeks.
The agent must have a location to do the business preferably a shop or even a kiosk. With a minimum of N100,000, an individual can start up the business at any part of the country. The startup capital may increase depending on the demand and supply in the area. But it is a risky business if the operator is not properly trained on the modes of operations- withdrawals and deposits.
Okanlawon said another criteria is a knowledge of the workings of the financial system and terminologies used in transactions such as chargebacks and failed transactions. For instance, sometimes the PoS, after transfer of money instead of stating successfully, may state “connection error” or “you have been logged out due to network” whereas the money has gone to the beneficiary.
Hence, there is need to check balance before initiating another transaction to avoid double payments.
What To Watch Out For
Security can be a challenge in operating an agent bank as agents can get robbed either by outsiders or even those in their employ, therefore, being vigilant is a key trait. There is also the issue of fraud that may be perpetuated by customers such as fake money.
He said some customers may steal someone else’s mobile phone and use the phone to transfer money to an agent’s account. Once the account holder complains in the bank, the movement of the money will be traced, and the agent will be arrested for robbery and other offences. Agents are advised not to allow anybody to transfer money into their accounts.
Despite the challenges, Okanlawon says agent banking can be quite profitable especially if situated in a high traffic area. Noting that most ex-bankers have turned into the business, he said it is a good source of daily income as profits can start from N10,000 a day. Asides this, he says it is an employment generating venture creating jobs for youths and preventing crime.