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Ugandan mobile money agents in the spotlight

February 19, 2014 • Mobile and Telecoms

The Helix Institute of Digital Finance launched its first country report on agent networks in Uganda as part of its Agent Network Accelerator (ANA) research project.

The Uganda Country Report is based on over 2,000 mobile money agent surveys carried out in 2013 all over the country  (image: file)

The Uganda Country Report is based on over 2,000 mobile money agent surveys carried out in 2013 all over the country (image: file)kamp

According to Helix Institute, “ANA, a collaboration between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MicroSave, is the largest research project on agent networks in the world, designed to determine what drives their success and scale.”

The Uganda Agent Network report is based on over 2,000 mobile money agent surveys carried out in 2013 all over the country. According to the report, the quantity of agents in Uganda is expanding rapidly and profits are high; however, the next phase of development needs to focus on the quality of service provided.

“In general agents are satisfied with their profits, rebalance fairly easily and are dedicated to remaining as agents. However, agents primarily face challenges on fraud and security, communication with their provider, and system downtime,” the report said.

Kimathi Githachuri, Head of The Helix Institute of Digital Finance and former Head of Warid Pesa, said that “The insights from Helix’s Uganda Report are very critical and present some unique findings which will assist us to develop standards and best practices leading to scalable and profitable models for building agent networks around the world.”

The report also stated that mobile operator MTN currently enjoys a 63% providers’ market share of the National Agent Network, while Warid is at 17%, while Airtel sits at 14%.

The lack of offerings means potential for product innovation, as the report highlights that only 33% of agents offer account openings, while more than 90% offer Cash-in (deposits). According to the report, the biggest shortcoming in Uganda is the fact that no agents offer credit, savings deposits or insurance.

However, 40% of agents are making at least $100 of profits a month, but as much as 11% of agents are making a loss. The mean profit for Uganda is $78, with rural areas scoring higher at $86. “The high profitability in rural areas is a combination of health revenues with low OpEx,” the report states.

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor

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