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Agrobank Launches AGROAgent

PAHANG Agrobank today has launched a new banking services called AGROAgent which provides agent banking services. The service was launched by Y.B. Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob, Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Malaysia (MoA) at an event held in Dataran Kerayong, Bera today.

With the new services, Agrobank will be able to widen the reach to provide basic banking facilities in the rural areas. This is part of the effort to support Bank Negara initiative to reach out to the underserved segments of the population particularly in rural areas in a more cost efficient manner through the use of non-bank retail outlets.

Under these services, Agrobank will appoint authorized banking agents, to provide basic banking services of accepting deposits and facilitating withdrawals. Other basic banking services that can be provided by the agents are fund transfers, bill payments and mobile top-up.

According to Y.Bhg. Tan Sri Faizah Mohd Tahir, Chairman of Agrobank, agent banking is a cost-effective way for the bank to expand its reach to provide services in rural areas with appointed agents under the agencies of the MOA and will allow the bank to leverage on its technology platform to provide innovative banking products and services to all.

With AGROAgent services, customers will no longer have to travel a long distance to the nearest town to make withdrawals and deposits as AGROAgent is strategically located near their neighborhoods. We leverage on the reach and network provided by the agencies under the Ministry (MOA).

Indeed, the new services provided by Agrobank further emphasis the Bank commitment towards providing basic banking facilities to the unserved and underserved communities as per our mandated role, explained Tan Sri Faizah further.

The bank has been piloting with 4 agents since early of the year, with initial collaboration with the National Farmer Association (NAFAS). Agrobank aims to recruit over 250 agents across the country including Sabah and Sarawak by the end of 2015.

In the first year, Agrobank is targeting 250,000 transactions in the first year through AGROAgents. Over the next few years we envisage that the AGROAgent will have close to 1,000 operating agents spread across Malaysia to give our customers easy accessibility and enhanced convenience, said Tan Sri Faizah.

At the ceremony, Y.B. Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob presented appointment letters to 13 current agents of AGROAgents. Also present to witness the ceremony were Y.H. Dato’ Wan Mohd Fadzmi Wan Othman, President/ Chief Executive Officer of Agrobank, YB Dato’ Seri Haji Saipolbahari bin Ismail, Chairman of National Farmer Association Malaysia (NAFAS) and Puan Marina Kahar, Director of Development Finance and Enterprise Department of Bank Negara Malaysia and also 500 guests from Pertubuhan Peladang Kebangsaan (PPK) and other agencies of MOA.

Speaking on behalf of BNM, Marina Kahar said Financial institutions play a critical role as conduits of financial inclusion by delivering essential financial services to all segments of society. Financial institutions have also strived to elevate the public awareness on effective and responsible usage of financial services, particularly Agent Banking.

The introduction of the Agent Banking Regulatory Framework in 2012 is one of the key initiatives identified under the Financial Sector Blueprint 2011-2020. This initiative aimed to further contribute to the financial inclusion agenda by enhancing accessibility to quality and affordable financial services, particularly in the underserved and remote areas. The agent banking initiatives has already produced impressive results. Within two years, almost 95% out of 837 mukims (sub-districts) with a population of more than 2,000 have at least one financial access point, a significant increase from only 46% in 2011. This achievement has exceeded the earlier target of 90% by end of 2014. There is now more than 5,600 agent banks nationwide with total number of transaction exceeding 26 million amounting to RM2.9 billion.

Moving forward, the bank will improve its services of which customers can also make interbank transactions (MEPS), mini statement printing, remittances, financing repayment and other services. Customers can also look forward to open new accounts service at the Agent premise tentatively by 2016.

To ensure the services of AGROAgent is conducted in a safe and reliable manner, Agrobank has put high safety measures in place and comply with all requirements as required in the Guidelines on Agent Banking issued by Bank Negara Malaysia. The standard set-up of AGROAgent at the agent premise features these safety measures for customers ease of mind.

Tan Sri Faizah said that Agrobank will continue to support the national agenda to promote inclusive banking and increase access to formal banking services in the country.

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