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Like GSM booths, POS shops create jobs, raise financial inclusion

As the country battles with high unemployment rate, a quest to increase financial inclusion and a struggle to counter  the inpact of the COVID-19 pandemic,…

As the country battles with high unemployment rate, a quest to increase financial inclusion and a struggle to counter  the inpact of the COVID-19 pandemic, more Nigerians, especially the youth, are taking to Point of Sale (POS) banking services as a trade.

This trend has already overtaken the GSM mobile phone calls and recharge cards sale booths that trended earlier when the telecommunication industry revolution began in the early 2000s.

According to a report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in March 2021, Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose to 33.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020, rising from 27.1 per cent in the second quarter (June) of last year.

An analysis by Bloomberg this year revealed that a third of the 69.7million strong labour force in Nigeria either did nothing or worked for less than 20 hours a week, making them unemployed, according to the Nigerian definition. Another 15.9m worked less than 40 hours a week, making them underemployed.

It is expected that the figure may worsen this year barring any government’s deliberate job intervention programme.

However, with advancement in financial technology (fintech), Nigerians are taking to the POS services subsector of the financial sector, also known as agency banking, to become self-employed while creating jobs for others.

The number of agency banking and POS operators has kept rising since 2017, data shows, bringing to the fore, the gains being accrued to those behind the initiatives.

According to the 2019 National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) document released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), banking agents rose from 38,416 in December 2018 to 236,940 as at December 2019.

It had earlier risen by over threefold to surpass 38,000 agents between 2017 and 2018. The agency banking campaign has led to phenomenal adoption in recent years.

Daily Trust features a survey report of POS service outlet owners and attendants across Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna and Kano and documented their gains and challenges.

In Abuja, a sales attendant, Blessing Emmanuel, said the job was not sustainable as the money paid to her monthly is not enough, but admitted that the business fetches a lot of income for those who have the capital to establish it as it has over the years served as an alternative to banks.

Daniel Ebuka also said the flexibility in POS business made it easy to operate without much supervision, adding that he gets a notification for each transaction made by his sales person.

While stating that he makes an average of N5,000 daily as profit, he said the business had enabled him to engage in other activities.

A POS operator at Gudu, Abuja, Stella Ugonna, said she made between N3,000 and N5,000 daily and about N100,000 monthly.

She also sells airtime, in addition to the deposits and withdrawals via the POS.

Miss Ugonna said she operated the POS herself as the last time she employed a sales girl, the girl ran off with a full day’s sales.

“This business is about bulk cash. You can’t just bring anybody to handle it. I must trust the person,” she said.

The POS business is also vast in Lagos. An operator at Ojodu Berger, Mr Happy Oyarekhua said, “It is all business; at least we are surviving. The business has helped a lot in keeping us busy. For instance, I read Business Administration and I found something to do because there is no white collar job.

“I also have attendants I pay between N10,000 and N12,000 monthly.”

On SMS charge, he said, “This varies. At times it is N2 or N5; and for POS charges, it varies, depending on the transactions for the day, maybe N900 to N1200.”

Another operator, Amarachi Opara, who has a stand at Ogba, said she charged N200 per N10,000 and N30 on every N1,000.

“I have been doing this for some time now and it has really been very helpful. I thank God for that, at least it has kept me busy,” she said.

She added that she currently has two people she pays N15,000 to man two different stands for her.

“When you look around, you see we have so many POS operators. It is a good business and that is why many people are coming into it. It might be challenging, but we are pushing it. At least we are not idle,” he added.

Precious Momodu, a student and POS operator at the Ojo area of Lagos said, “I gain more during festive periods as I get two times the number of customers I see every day. This is so because during festivities, banks don’t open, so people who need cash urgently patronise us as an alternative”.

She said the POS business had made her self-employed and the profit had been meeting her needs and that of the people around her.

Precious, who goes to school and also runs an internship programme, employed one of her cousins to manage her POS business. She also does online registration and sells phone accessories.

Another POS operator at the Cement, Mrs Rasheedat Abdulmalik, a primary school teacher, said the business serves as an alternative source of income to her as gains from it helped her cover unexpected expenses.

In Kano, Abubakar Muhammad Ibrahim, an agent of Firstmonie at Tarauni, said he was encouraged by the manager of Sufi Mart, a popular supermarket in the area, to start the POS business in order to ease the difficulties faced by the supermarket’s customers due to the absence of ATM around the area.

The graduate of the Kano State Polytechnic said he concluded his studies and supports his family through his earnings from the business.

Ibrahim, who has also diversified into sale of phone accessories, said that despite competition, he found the POS business profitable and sustainable.

Some of his customers said they appreciated his services as he reduced the charges when withdrawing large amounts, as well as discounts for little withdrawals.

At Kundila Maiduguri Road, a major POS centre there is Pacific Online and Business Centre, owned by Bashir Suwaid, who runs the business with three staff.

He said as a former banker, he decided to start the POS business because he studied how profitable it was and has since opened other branches in different locations within the Kano metropolis.

Suwaid views it as a way of getting passive income, which enabled him to diversify his revenue streams by venturing into online centres and frozen foods located at the same place.

Another POS agent, Rabiu Muhammad Kabir at Zoo Road said though they did not serve as a direct employee of banks, he delivered banking services at N50 per transaction of N1,000 to N10,000 and more commissions on more amounts.

He said that at some point he stopped using the Firstmonie POS due to bad network and complaint about charges by the users, and changed to Moniepoint, which is more affordable.

Another POS agent, Muhammed Amir, who is also a veterinarian at Dan Agundi, said that with the POS business he sustained his agrovet business. He also said the POS business had brought him nothing but tons of blessings.

At Kaduna metropolis, Zulaihat Surajudden owns a POS kiosk around the Mogadishu area. She said the business had helped make her self-sufficient enough to make at least a N20,000 commission every month.

Another POS operator, Yusuf Shanono, said the business had helped many unemployed youths, adding that with a little capital and a POS machine, anyone can start the business.

“With your umbrella, chair and a good location, you can get customers who will rather come to you for transactions than go to banks. Your income will be determined by how aggressive you are in marketing for customers,” he said.

Although there are challenges like poor internet services, resulting in double transactions, charges among others, most of those who spoke to our correspondents believed they had found something reasonable to do while they try to expand or get white collar jobs.

By Simon E. Sunday, Francis A. Iloani, Faruk Shuaibu (Abuja), Christiana T. Alabi, Abdullateef Aliyu (Lagos), Ibrahim Suwaid, Hajara M. Bashir (Kano) & Abdulkadir Shehu (Kaduna)

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