Despite disruptions to banking activities caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Access Bank Plc says it advanced a total of N30 billion worth of credit facilities to about 8,000 entrepreneurs in the retail market segment of the economy this year.
This is just as the lender has launched a payment acceptance service known as SWIFTPAY to enable small business owners to register and expand their payment services online.
Addressing newsmen at the Bank’s Head Office (PGD towers) Lagos, Group Head (Emerging) Businesses, Access Bank Plc, Ayodele Olojede, said SWIFTPAY said it is easy for small business owners to register and make their sales online without necessarily being present.
Her words: “We created a customised debit card which comes with higher withdrawal limits and discounts for business owners. It will enable our customers to save money, save time and provide better customer experience for their clients as buying from your page, whether WhatsApp, Instagram and other social media channels make payments easier. So, whether you go out to your store or not, your sales continue with seamless payments online.
“In Access Bank we give small businesses loan without collateral but with satisfactory cash flow to pay back. So, we also support you to be able to sell and get paid easily. As soon as you open account (as an entrepreneur), we introduce you to a whole bouquet of digital offerings.”
According to her, the bank has also partnered with Google to help train about 10,000 customers in one year. Training she said will equip small business owners with the requisite skill set to be able to manage their businesses online. Other partners are; Nigerian Enterprise Development Centre, Visa among others.
Olojede stated that there was an overall increase of about 5 million Micro Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (MSMEs) in the Nigerian market between 2013 and 2017.
She observed that in 2013 it was 37 million and in 2017 they increased to 41 million, saying that about 88 per cent of that growth is at the micro-segment. The medium-scale sizes, on the other hand, declined from over 4,000 to about 1,700 due to limited opportunities to achieve scale, even as the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 worsened the situation.
According to Olojede, the pandemic led to lesser in-person interactions in terms of payments and other trade related activities, thereby pushing people online.
This she stated, necessitates the introduction of the product which may have been introduced by some Financial Technology firms, but the first from Deposit Money Banks in Nigeria, giving it added trust and security, “Verified by Access Bank.”
Only recently, the lender announced its partnership with Visa on a new debit card for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in Nigeria.
The intent is to foster a new level of transparency and efficiency for SMBs’ expense management, helping do away with mismanagement associated with the handling of cash.
The new card will be designed to help SMBs, offering a higher spending limit in line with the companies’ spending patterns and working to provide them with access to discount services for logistic services and digital payment acceptance services.