In the first post of our series on Agent Banking we spoke about how customers could benefit from Agent Bank and make “Banking a need” . The second post of the same series will highlight how Agents are the face of change to people’s financial security and independence.
Who really is an Agent?
An agent is mostly misunderstood as a mediator/broker who charges money to provide services. However, in the case of agent banking although an agent is a mediator but he does not charge anything from the customer.
An Agent of Agent Banking is an authorized person by bank/non-bank who has the authority to provide banking services to the individuals via
- A kiosk set up at a remote place
- An individual who comes to your place with a handheld device equipped to perform banking transactions
- A supermarket/retailers/post offices/NGO’s/specialized microfinance institutions (MFIs) etc
Although, the mode of operation may differ with each agent like –
- POS enabled Agent – The agent uses a payment card to facilitate banking transactions.
- Services via Mobile phone – The agent uses a smartphone to authorize customers and avail banking services
- Services via Mobile Wallets accessed by customers – The Agents are managed by the telecom and provide access to mobile wallets on the user cell phone. That helps users to send, receive, recharge, and buy stuff through the mobile phone.
- Services via Mobile Wallets accessed by Agent – The agents in this case also are managed by telecom; however, the agent has a bank account linked to the bank, where for every transaction done the bank pay a commission to the telecom.
Why We Need Agents?
We Need Agents because –
- Banks have to spend a lot to provide Banking services in remote areas that result in non-profitability of the business. A study conducted in 2012 shows that the cost per unit for any banking services was much higher when it was executed by a Banking/Branch Staff to when compared to Business Correspondent agent [BC]. With such high cost, it’s hard for the high transaction low balance account group to get the banking services.
Cost Per Unit Transaction (in Rs) 1Image Credit - Microsave
- Cost is incurred only when the transaction is successful – If we start setting up a bank in every remote area, we need to pay a fixed cost to the infrastructure and supporting staff. However, with agents, the costing only comes in the picture when the transaction is successful. Agents in a way help in reducing the cost per transaction and making a profit.
- Banking Anytime – As a person would you like to concentrate on your business or running to the bank to avail banking services? With agents offering OMNI channel execution, banking services could be availed from anywhere anytime. Banks could provide the customer with a seamless banking experience with the agent's different channels like mobile, the internet or agents thereby making services available 24*7
How Agents Are Benefitting from Agent Banking?
A lot has been spoken about customers and profit bearing business for banks, but what about agents? Are they getting their piece of cake?
Agents who are technically bankers are also getting assistance to sell/market specialized products and services to customers in outlying areas, providing individuals and small businesses with the finance they need to stimulate growth. One of the comments of an agent sourced from the web says –
“People here are doing it like daily contribution. They compel themselves to put in something into their account every day, no matter how small. Instead of patronizing the Esusu people, they come here to make a deposit, because my house is here and I cannot run away. I don’t retain their money and I do close on time so as to take whatever I collect to the bank. Sometimes, I use their money for my other business and ask the bank to debit my account in order to credit their account. The commission I receive from this business is enough to pay one of my children’s school fees in secondary school. You cannot do this business without knowledge of IT”.
Talking about the numbers –
If we look at the business generated by the agents [BC] in terms of deposits and advances, we could come to a point that an agent is earning an average of $100 and few of the successful agents are earning more than $175 a month.
So, if the agents are provided to assist with more services, it would surely help in an increase of the revenue for the agents. Agents are not just the individual members; they are the building blocks of Agent Network on whose reliable shoulders “banking is experiencing the digital transformation”.
What is NDASENDA™ and eBazara?
NDASENDA and eBazara are the service delivery platform which helps customers with Phone recharges, Electricity Voucher payment.They have an effective voucher dispensing system that is useful in providing Agency Banking Platform, Payment Solutions and could also act as Service Aggregator.
NDASENDA and eBazara are not just doing business but they aim to help people at the bottom of the pyramid with their retail assisted model, that could
How to become an Agent?
The Person interest to be an Agent with NDASENDA and eBazara need to follow these steps –
The Benefits of Being an NDASENDA™Agent
If you are looking to be an Agent and not sure on the benefits, here are the key benefits of being a Ndasenda Agent –
- There are no entry criteria
- You could offer a wide array of services like electricity. airtime, wifi. broadband, bill payments, tax payments
- You could reach out to non-reachable customer - particularly late adopters and female customers
- You do not need working capital
- This could be your part-time job i.e. devote few hours while managing your business/employment.
- You could work from home [WFH]
- Once you excel, you could be promoted to be a master agent and create a tribe for yourself
- You do not need to fulfill any criteria to have a bank account,
- You do not need to fulfill any criteria for registering business
- No criteria of minimum capital requirement
- Can work on the float for wide array of services, the money is not locked for a particular service
How “Agents” Could Be The Change Agents!
Undoubtedly Agents are the Changemakers of society by providing services at your doorstep. But one of the highlighting facts is that in some of the drastic situation like the recent demonetization, these social entrepreneurs could infuse some relief into the society. How? Well, let’s pick an example –
Riham who had a puncture shop in a rural area used to earn around 300-400 INR daily, but since demonetization news came in, people were reluctant to use cash. Our Agent Kiro helped Riham to set up a digital wallet as a Seller and also helped the other localities to create a digital wallet. This helped Riham to still earn money and also to the other localities to avail the services.
Another Senior citizen from the same rural area had some #500 and #1000 currency note but was not able to visit the Post Office or Bank to deposit or get an exchange. Our agent Kiro walked in heard the situation patiently, he asked for his KYC and a letter of authorization and next day he got the notes exchanged and handed over to the old man.
The above scenario may not be real, but it does not seem to be far away from the reality! In short, The Agents are capable of providing services to its customers in an easy and structured way.
One of the main advantages of Agent Banking is that you do not need to build anything from scratch; you just need to identify potential agents complete regulatory formalities’ and could start Agent Banking. However, experts recommend Banks to be cautious while hiring an agent and make sure to monitor the progress frequently. While at one hand regulators have tightened the services to be provided by the agents, technology is providing the transparency, and adding value to Digital Financial services. Agents just need to find the perfect balance!
@Teknospire we would soon be publishing a case study on Women's role in #Financial Inclusion. Make sure to subscribe for that.
In the meantime, you could also browse our FAQs and another blog post here
References:Going Further: The Next Steps for Agency Banking Agency banking: Bringing financial services to rural areas
How Agent Banking Changes the Economics of Small Accounts
Agent Banking: Penetrating Markets, Rural Communities For Financial Inclusion
The benefits of agency banking in emerging markets
Success Factors of Equity Bank’s Agency Banking
Great Business for Banks – So Why Are They Slow To Build Agency Banking?