Agent networks: opportunities for mobile money in the distribution value chain
Innovation Forum
19 September 2012

Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA) hosted their Innovation Forum titled, “Agent Networks: Opportunities for Mobile Money in the Distribution Value Chain.” The event was attended by licensed Mobile Money Operators (MMOs), Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), industry regulators, corporate organisations with large distribution networks, payments infrastructure service providers and trade associations, among others.

The key objectives of the forum were to educate organisations on the relevance of developing an agent network through their distributors; how Mobile Money can be used for payments; and create opportunities for potential strategic alliances between large corporates’ and Mobile Money Operators.

Speaking at the opening of the forum, Ms. Modupe Ladipo, Chief Executive Officer, EFInA, stated that, “Mobile Money will create a cheaper and more accessible electronic payment ecosystem that will broaden and deepen the financial sector. More importantly, an effective agent network will ensure that more people are financially included by increasing the number of access points for transactions, and reducing the cost of transacting, especially in the rural areas. A critical success factor for the uptake of Mobile Money is the proliferation of ubiquitous agents in as many communities as possible, so that consumers can transact safely and easily, close by to their home or place of work.”

Keynote speaker and recognised expert on agent networks and mobile banking, Mr. Lazarus Muchenje, Group Chief Executive Officer, CelPay Zambia – the largest independent mobile banking company in the world – said, “Mobile Money Operators have a huge responsibility for expanding financial services in Nigeria. The use of technology has enabled us to leapfrog development; taking banking services to communities where it would not have been economically feasible in the past using traditional bricks and mortar. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is extremely proactive and has put in place the levers of success required for the MMOs to succeed in their endeavours. The challenge now for MMOs, is for them to ensure their business cases are sound, while having the right people and technology to support the implementation of their plans.”

He further stated that, “EFInA is doing a great job in sensitising people and making the industry understand the concept of Mobile Money and agent networks; the potential opportunities as well as the key challenges. Hopefully all of this will result in the uptake of Mobile Money and the deepening of financial services in Nigeria.”

Licensed Mobile Money Operators such as such as Fortis MobileMoney, Paga, Stanbic IBTC Mobile Money, FirstMonie, Mimo, PocketMoni, Ecobank MobileMoney, FETS, Parkway Projects, Qik Qik and Paycom, showcased their products and services at the exhibition to corporations and relevant industry stakeholders.

Other speakers at the event were Musa Jimoh, Deputy Director, Banking and Payments System Department, CBN (representing the Director, Banking and Payments System Department); Ada Phil-Ugochukwu, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, EFInA; and Alice Zanza, Payment Systems Specialist, World Bank.

From discussions at the forum, a single proposition that emerged was that Mobile Money can be lucrative in the mid to long term, if properly executed.  EFInA Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Ladipo’s closing remarks were, “Where we would like to see Nigeria in a few years, is where we have minimal financial exclusion and an individual’s mobile phone serves as their ‘bank’ from where they can conduct a range of financial transactions, including sending and receiving payments.”