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Mobile banking agents decry poor providers’ strategy, agents turnover

Stakeholders in the mobile money and banking agency network ecosystem have decried what they described as poor providers strategy and high rate of agents turnover which according to them are working against the objectives of financial inclusion.

They spoke to Nigeria CommunicationsWeek on viability of agency network in the financial inclusion initiative of the central bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Olowu Babs Azeez, chief executive officer, OBAT Global Investment, attributed the challenge of high rate of Agents’turnover to selfish interest of operators, banks and the super agents. “Also, lot of summersaults financial policies have caused serious havoc to the industry. We don’t have a stable policy to regulate the industry.

“Moreso, the support from both ends are very poor because there is a very wide communication gap between the banks, operators, super agents and the agents”.

He urged providers to introduce more financial services products to promote and enhance financial inclusion aside Cash-In/Cash-Out.Fasasi Sarafadeen Atanda, managing director, Partner de Ecosystem – an agent network management company, said that testament of high rate of agents turnover is evident in his recent visit to the field where he saw that agents the providers have invested in training, marketing and onboarded in the last three years, of which greater percentage of them are no longer in business.

“That is a waste of resources. They now have new agents that they need to also train and brand again.I am sure in the next one year if you visit those locations you will find a new sets of agents. In this situation, we are turning over experience which is not going to lead into sustainability.

He also decried lack of general skill-set in the ecosystem.“What we have is providers training agents, if you are agents of Paga, Paga will train you; if you are agents of Opay, Opay will train you.

“If you look at the content of the training it is specific to their platform, it is about how to transact on their platform, dispute resolution on their platform, and it is really not about profitability and knowledge of the business.

“Viability of mobile money and banking agents business is determined by making agency banking or agent network a business and not as a service. They don’t train agents on how they will be productive or on cost analysis structure.

Atanda also identified platform quality as a major challenge in the agency business. According to him, “some mobile App platform and POS Channel platform of providers are not tested and certified hence result in loss of agents’ money when transactions are routed through them. There should independent body to certify providers’ platform before it is rolled out for agents to use.

“Also, we have strategy issues, I have checked through providers’ strategy across the channels; the MMO, MNO and the Banks led, I discovered that they don’t engage the practitioners before they design their strategy and their strategies have always be the same.

“If you look at commission structure and onboarding processes, they are all the same, so the mistake of one is been repeated in the other. Strategy of agency banking is not cast in stone you have to look at what is obtainable in the market. These are some of the causes of the downfall of most of the providers”.

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