NIPOST plans biometrics, agency banking system to push Nigeria financial inclusion
The Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) is making contributions to the country’s financial inclusion efforts in the form a biometric registration drive as it plans to see an announced agency banking platform fully go operational soon.
The system in question was unveiled in January, but there are plans to officially launch it this month, according to a Tech Point Africa report which examines how the platform could help establish personal accounts for the huge chunk of Nigerians who are still unbanked.
The outlet says NIPOST has not given much detail yet about the functioning of the system, but it cites Digital Economy Minister Isa Pantami as saying the platform will come with a biometric debit card which can be used both online and offline to authenticate the identity of users through their fingerprints.
NIPOST is expected to work in partnership with fintechs to drive their objective, but it has not revealed who will deliver the biometric debit cards.
Pantami is also quoted as saying the NIPOST platform will operate within the framework of the Universal Postal Union’s standards on financial inclusion, which means it would offer services such as money transfers, insurance, savings, credit and digital payments, among others.
Although it is not yet clear how the new agency platform will function, Tech Point Africa however suggests that the platform could operate in similar fashion to South African fintech start-up Paycode whose customers use its biometric debit cards to authenticate transactions in a secure and seamless manner. Paycode may even be the technology supplier for the project, with CEO Ralph Pecker referring to growth potential from Nigerian contracts when the company announced it had received an investment last November.
Paycode received funds to expand its financial inclusion services, and already operates in Southern and West African nations such as Mozambique, Nigeria, Namibia, and Botswana. As Tech Point Africa writes, Paycode works with the national postal service of Namibia.
A financial inclusion partnership between Paycode and Mastercard to reach people in remote areas of Africa was announced last September.
The NIPOST biometric debit card can be used offline, making it similar to the one offered by Paycode which allows anyone with access to the company’s API to use the card without any access to the internet. This feature is especially useful for especially difficult-to-access and rural areas with poor or no internet connection.
The Tech Point Africa article also takes a look at some other countries around the world where postal services are playing an important role in driving up financial inclusion thanks to partnerships with fintechs. Countries following this model include Brazil, India, Benin, Ghana, and Namibia.