Following the lockdown, the Federal Government began the disbursement of cash palliatives to the poor and vulnerable. The disbursement was carried out through the National Social Safety Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO) and the Household Uplifting Programme (HUP).
According to the government, a cash relief of N20,000 has been disbursed to over 2.6 million households (11 million individuals) across the country. It also added that it plans to extend the package to 1 million more households in the coming weeks.
However, the FG has sacked 2 Payment Service Providers (PSP) for failing to promptly disburse the cash palliatives released to beneficiaries in four states.
Using agent networks to disburse cash
As an alternative, the CEO of Paga, Tayo Oviosu has reached out to the government, saying that his company is ready and able to help disburse the money promptly to those in need.
Paga is a mobile payment platform with about 24,000 agents spread out across the country which the government could leverage to get the cash palliatives to those who are in need quickly.
One of the coordinators of the cash transfer, HUP revealed that most of the beneficiaries don’t have bank accounts or banking facilities around their neighbourhood. It added that cash payment at ward level is the only way the palliatives can reach them.
Paga has over 24,000 agents across the country
Agent networks provide strategic leverage that can allow the government to reach the beneficiaries as they have more reach than banks. According to GSMA, mobile agent networks have 20 times more reach than banks.
However, Paga is not the only fintech startup in the country with extensive agent networks that the government could leverage to get the cash to the locals and rural where those in need live. Here are 4 other fintech startups with broad agent networks.
MoMo – Agents across all 774 local governments
MoMo is the mobile money service of MTN, Nigeria’s leading telecom provider. MoMo’s network of agents is present across all 774 local governments in the country.
MoMo has over 100,000 agents in Nigeria
MoMo has infrastructure and network to help the government get the palliative to the doorsteps of those that are in need.
FirstMonie – Over 32,000 agents
Firstmonie is the mobile money service of FirstBank, a foremost commercial bank in Nigeria. The platform has over 32,000 Firstmonie Agents present in 754 local governments across the country.
Similar to MoMo, Firstmonie has popularity and reach that could be readily employed for disbursement of relief funds on a national scale.
OPay – Over 40,000 agents
OPay is a fintech app launched by Opera. The app boasts of about
40,000 agents, one of the largest agent networks in the country.
Its large network which has been greatly boosted by the company’s many verticals could easily help the government disburse cash palliatives.
SANEF is an initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), supported by Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) that aims to deepen financial inclusions in the country.
SANEF has over 500,000 agents across the country that the government could leverage to reach all the target beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer.
As the government is making plans to find replacements for the removed PSP’s, it will be advisable for them to leverage fintechs who already have a network of agents as it will make disbursement of the palliative faster and more effective.
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