The Central Bank of Liberia has engaged Hasal Microfinance Bank Limited (MFB) in a fact-finding discussion with a view to using the knowledge acquired to develop financial inclusion operational guidelines in Liberia.
The Liberian apex bank team, which had earlier visited the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was at Hasal MFB in company of CBN officials last week to use it as a case study in designing appropriate operational strategies in financial inclusion for Liberia's nascent micro- finance market.
The managing director of Hasal MFB, Mr. Rogers Nwoke, took the delegation through core areas of the bank's operations, including product development and marketing strategies which he noted, had been responsible for the modest achievements recorded so far by the bank's financial inclusion agenda.
Nwoke spoke on some of the bank's products like the mobile banking which enables transactions through the use of POC (Point of Collection) terminals by HASUSU Savings Executives who carry out door-to-door cash mobilisation from micro customers.
In addition, he explained the introduction of POS (Point Of Sale) terminals to both SME and micro customers which enable them use their Debit Cards for purchase and payment for goods and services, amongst others.
According to him, the bank "has also built a large network of branches and cash centres, across the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with several correspondent banks for easy deposit/withdrawal of cash mobilised."
While responding to enquiries raised by the LCB delegation led by Mr. Tefleh Wollor on the level of loan defaults and other operational challenges being faced by MFBs in the country generally, the Hasal Bank chief listed government contracts as the most risky.
To improve financial inclusion in the grassroots, Nwoke explained that the bank provides quarterly training for customers with special attention on the illiterates on the use of POC/POS terminals, adding that as a means of avoiding loan default, agricultural loans are structured according to type of production/harvesting season.
Wollor, who was impressed by the explanations of the Hasal Bank boss, said the visit was made to the MFB "to understand their role to financial inclusion in Nigeria".
Similarly, in her remarks the Executive Director/CEO Universal Empowerment Mission of Liberia, Irene Konneh George, said she was happy to be in Nigeria and to get information to take back home to help improve her own work.
Saye Bujie of Liberia Credit Union National Association in a similar tone said he was "impressed with facilities, programmes presented and processes"
In Liberia the Micro finance sub sector comprises, Microfinance Deposit Institutions (MDIs) and operates basically non-deposit banking as their market is made up of Credit unions (cooperative societies).
Recall that Hasal MFB had hosted HRH, Princess Maxima of the Netherlands, the United Nations Special Advocate for Finance Inclusion, during her visit to Nigeria at the launching of the National Financial Inclusion strategy by the Federal Government a few months ago.