Mobile Money & Banking Agents do not work alone. As their name imply, they work as subsidiaries or agents of banks and other companies called operators. Now, we examine the different types of operators in the digital financial ecosystem that mobile money agents work with.

There are different type of operators who mobile money agents can work with, namely:

  • Deposit Money Banks: DMB are commercial banks like the regular ones we open and maintain savings or current accounts with. DMBs leverage the services of agents to make their banking services available to more people in the agents' local communities. In other words, the agents help them get more customers for their bank and earn commissions for doing that. Most Deposit Money Banks now have mobile money services.
  • Mobile Money Operators(MMOs): These are companies like banks specifically licensed to carry out mobile money business. Think about it like a mobile bank (with limited services) - whose outlets are mobile money agents.  Some examples of licensed Mobile Money Operators include Paga, FETs wallet, and Pocket Moni (by Quickteller)  and they all operate through agents.
  • Super Agents: These are companies licensed by the CBN to recruit and aggregate agents who will work with Deposit Money Banks and Mobile Money Operators to extend financial services to the unbanked and underbanked in the rural areas. Some examples of super agent operators include: Innovectives, Quickteller paypoint, 3line, Itex, Xpress pay, Global Accerelex, Chams plc, Capricon Digital, Unified payments, Inlaks - and they all operate through agents.
  • Payment Service Providers (PSP): These are companies licensed by the CBN to process payments on behalf of merchants. This means, they can serve as gateways collecting money on behalf of a merchant (e.g MTN) and remitting that money to that merchant later. They make it easier for people to pay for the services of that merchant. Examples are Paystack, Flutterwave, Remita, etc. Payment Service Providers hardly recruit agents at the moment.
  • Fintechs: These are companies who are focused on using technology to make specific financial services easily available and accessible to people. E.g: PiggyVest is a fintech that makes it easier for people to save and invest their money. Most Fintechs recruit agents through the super agents.

Licensed operators are those who have official CBN permission to operate in the capacity of a bank, mobile money operator, super agent, PTSP or Fintech. Some characteristics of licensed operators are:

  • They are represented on NIBSS. This means you can transfer money directly to their accounts/wallets online
  • They are able to open NUBAN account numbers for their clients. This doesn't stop them from opening wallets for their customers too.
  • Their transactions are directly regulated by CBN
Unlicensed operators leverage on partnerships with licensed operators to provide financial services, under the guidelines of the licensed operator.
  • Most of them focus on bills payment and are able to sign up merchants on whose behalf they can collect payments. If they provide other financial services (e.g CICO, Wallet Withdrawal & deposit), they do it as an extension of their partner operator’s products.
  • They are not represented on the NIBSS platform. This means that you can't transfer money directly to wallet holders of these operators.
  • They cannot open NUBAN accounts. They can only open wallets for their customers.
  • Their transactions are regulated by their partner banks.

There are other very important players in the digital financial services ecosystem who are not operators, but are instrumental to ensuring that the Mobile Money services are accessible and operate smoothly. We have listed them here and discussed their roles, so you are not lost when you hear people make reference to them.

  1. CBN: The Central Bank of Nigeria is the primary regulatory body for all financial services in Nigeria. They are the body that issues licenses to Banks, Mobile Money Operators, Super Agent companies and Payment Service providers companies. Mobile money agents have no direct business with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
  2. NIBSS: Nigeria Interbank settlement system: This is the company that ensures all banks can communicate with each other. They are the reason why when you originate a transaction from GTBank to Zenith Bank, it will go through smoothly. Mobile money agents have no direct business with NIBSS
  3. Telcos: These are telecom operators like MTN, Glo, etc. They enable POSs and your phones connect to the internet via their data services. Some Telcos are also trying to operate as mobile money operators, e.g MTN operates MoMo.
  4. Payment Terminal Service Providers: These are companies that issue POS terminals to Deposit Money banks and Mobile Money Operators - who then give them to their merchants and agents. So, that POS you are using in a supermarket was issued to them by a bank who got it through a payment terminal service provider.
  5. SANEF: This stands for Shared Agent Network Expansion Facility. They are a company powered by the Central Bank of Nigeria, Deposit Money Banks, Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, licensed Mobile Money Operators and Shared Agents. Essentially, they loan money to banks and mobile money operators to help them build up their agent network across the country. This way, they are contributing to deepening financial inclusion by boosting the number of agents in rural areas, who will in turn make more people get access to the financial ecosystem. Agents do not have any direct interaction with SANEF.
Take note that mobile money agents have no direct business with these organizations.