Mobile money agents are compelled to branch out and serve as multi-channel and multi-platform digital finance ecosystem facilitators – this as growth of the continent’s digital payments market impacts on cash-in cash-out transactions, according to a new report released by digital finance advisory company Mondato.
The report explains that to date, mobile money agent networks cashed in on commission fees linked to cash-in and cash-out transactions. However, growth of these transactions has slowed with the advent of Fintech and this has taken a large chunk out of commissions for agents.
It says: “A shift in business models for agents is not only necessary, but imminent” especially as new players with zero rated or minimal transaction charges foray into markets”.
In the report, Ali Hussein Kassim, Chairman, Association of Fintechs in Kenya, is quoted: “(Agents) are going to be your agnostic financial services branch. That is the evolution…The business of different agents having different POS’s, five or six of them, will need to be integrated quickly… “more revenue streams (are likely) to emerge for agent networks” the traditional lucrative mobile money payments capabilities.
Insurance for example provides a “vastly untapped opportunity that could be captured through agent networks” while agency banking is another area that mobile money agents have begun to explore.
None of the mobile money agents in Kenya surveyed by Mondato rely solely on their mobile money agency business. As the report states, they have “to do side gigs ranging from electronics, phone accessories, groceries, cosmetics, pharmacies, or an amalgamation of mobile banking agencies” in addition to their mobile money services.
Kenya-based M-Pesa agent and retailer Joyce Waithera, said, “Most (of the mobile money clients) want to buy something from me. You’ll find them asking for a kilo of beans, withdrawing the payment and a little extra to take home with them. Or they’ll come to buy the beans, see the Mobile Money Agent sign board, and [then] decide to withdraw some cash.”
According to GSMA, 55% of mobile money agents derive the majority of their income from non-mobile money activities.