The agreement between the Nigerian Post (NIPOST) and One Network, announced in March 2012, may well become – if it materializes according to plans – a partnership made in heaven, a textbook case study, and a model for many other postal operators.
– One Network is a Nigerian industry stakeholder organization including payment processors, financial institutions, insurance companies and system integrators, among others. Its major aim is to provide neighborhood agent management services to authorized public service providers such as mobile money operators, banks and microfinance institutions across Nigeria.
-The Central Bank of Nigeria issued in 2011 mobile payments licenses to 18 companies, all of which struggling to find reliable local agents responsible for the cashing in/cashing out of remittances. Their combined network of 1,000 agents is way too small to allow for the emergence of a healthy mobile payment sector comparable to Kenya’s.
-NIPOST has a nationwide network of 1,065 post offices and more than 3,000 sub post offices. The new National ICT Policy issued in January 2012 mandates the Post to leverage its network to serve “as a tool for the promotion of social, financial and digital inclusion”.
One Network plans are extremely ambitious: to build a structured, standardized and open nationwide network of 50,000 neighborhood agents that will provide access to government and financial services. With the new partnership NIPOST’s offices will become the backbone of One Network’s extensive network, which will also include other locations such as micro finance banks, regular banks or gas stations. One Network wants to provide “an integrated platform for all stakeholders so that interactions remain seamless across multiple operators”.
In additional to mobile payments One Network agents will serve as a one stop access points to a variety of services such as :
– Government services, such as biometric registration and verification, public identify registration, “educational services registration”
– Utility bill payment services
– Mobile money transfer services
– Card issuance
– Document scanning and printing
– Information verification services.
One Network first needs to address two challenges : to quickly reach a critical mass of agents, and to seamlessly integrate its partners’ IT networks. If successful, the project will help ensure NIPOST’s long term financial viability, as more agents join, and new services are launched.
-On NIPOST and mobile payments in Nigeria : http://www.punchng.com/business/technology/mobile-money-nipost-others-lead-penetration-campaign/
–Nigeria’s draft ICT sector policy (January 2012) : http://nigeriacomputers.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/National_ICT_Policy_DRAFT_090112.pdf
–One Network web site : https://sites.google.com/site/cosmosonenetwork/about-us