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First Bank targets 101m mobile subscribers with Firstmonie

Published by Guardian on Sat, 22 Sep 2012

First Bank of Nigeria Plc has introduced a platform targeted at the over 101 million active mobile subscribers in the country.The product, called Firstmonie, is expected to reduce the country's unbanked population.According to statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission, Nigeria now has over 101 million active subscribers, with over 71 per cent teledensity penetration.Speaking at the media launch of Firstmonie in Lagos, the Chief Executive Officer of First Bank, Bisi Onasanya, said the future of banking would be driven by various e-banking initiatives.Onasanya reiterated the financial sector's drive to partner with the telecommunications sector to fast track the adoption of mobile banking in the country and subsequently boost the Central Bank of Nigeria's cash-less economy initiative.According to him, to ensure seamless transactions, First Bank was leveraging on the network platforms of the four major telecommunications operators including MTN Nigeria, Airtel, Etisalat and Globacom.The bank chief, who said his financial institution was leveraging on the fund transfer capability of the mobile telephony to offer world class services, noted that mobile phone has the capability to store monetary information and like other channels of e-banking, is closer and always with the customer.'Nigeria remains largely underbanked. But to reduce this gap, we have introduced Firstmonie, which is easy to use, convenient and backed by transaction integrity. We are bringing mobile wallet into the mobile phone,' he stated.Explaining the functionality of the new solution, First Bank's Group Head, e-Business, Chuma Ezirim, said the solution was for existing and potential customers, with a target of 10 million users in its first year of operation, adding that it can be used by anybody.Ezirim said the bank now has over 650 connected branches across the country, adding that Firstmonie will have about 10, 000 human agents to drive the initiative.According to him, the bank will drive the usage through three approaches, which are telco agnostic, mobile phone agnostic and multi-channel platform.On the issue of possible network challenge plaguing telecoms operations in the country, the e-business boss said: 'It is a factor beyond the control of Firstbank. We have provided alternative channels including the Internet platform. But we are sure that the operators are working on that challenge and we have assurance that there won't be problem.'Securitywise, we have provided a platform that is secured, through user specialised PIN, which is for the user alone and can only be breached if third party has access to it.'Though First Bank has over 1900 ATMs across the country, Ezirm said in the case of withdrawal via the ATM, recipient or user can for only access such on FIrst Bank ATMs alone for now.'But we are currently working with NIBSS to ensure inteoperability with other ATMs on this. We hope that by first quarter of next year that should ve been resolved', he stated.According to him, Firstmonie can be used to pay bills; airtime top up; shopping; bank transfers; send money via mobile (P2P registered and unregistered) among other channels.
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