FirstBank CEO Bisi Onasanya

By Lukas Ajanaku, Lagos, Nigeria

FirstBank of Nigeria has signed its third mobile money agreement with a telco this month – this time with Etisalat. Earlier, the bank signed similar agreements with Glo Mobile and Airtel Nigeria.

The latest Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), between Nigeria’s fastest growing and most innovative telecommunications company Etisalat and FirstBank of Nigeria is designed to provide seamless mobile money services to millions of Nigerians.

The MoU signing ceremony held at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Victoria Island Lagos is not only the commencement of a major shift in the landscape of e-banking services in Nigeria but also a combination of the strengths of the two leading organizations to provide secure, convenient and user-friendly mobile banking services to the unbanked through the use of mobile phones.

Mobile banking is the use of mobile phones to remotely access bank accounts, primarily for account inquiry, mobile transfer, retail payments, micro insurance, savings remittances, mobile topup, utility bill payments and government collections among others.

According to Steven Evans, Chief Executive Officer of Etisalat Nigeria: “Etisalat is already recognized as being the most innovative and fastest growing GSM operator in the Nigerian market. During 2011, we added over 4 million new subscribers reaching 11 million subscribers shortly after the end of 2011.

We are proud to be working in strategic partnership with FirstBank on this mobile money initiative and we feel that the combination of innovation and customer focus for which Etisalat is so rightly recognized, combined with the financial strength and trust with which FirstBank is held with will be a unique and successful partnership.”

Commenting on the initiative, FirstBank’s Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Bisi Onasanya, said mobile banking is hinged on three planks which are defined in terms of financial inclusion for the unbanked and the underbanked, person to person transaction in terms of sending and receiving money as well as retail payment for the purchase of goods and services.

He added: “With over 600 branches and thousands of business partner outlets in strategic proximity to the people, coupled with over 1,500 ATMs including cash deposit ATMs, cardless and biometric ATMs, over 5 million active accounts and more than 1,200 Point of Sale terminals, FirstBank has always been at the forefront of innovative financial services solutions.

The mobile money initiative, an integral part of the broad objectives of the FSS 20:2020 was conceived by the Central Bank of Nigeria because of its critical nature to achieving a “cashless society which is fundamental to the nation’s goal of becoming one of the top 20 largest economies in the world by the year 2020.

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