Host(s):

As you have learnt from previous modules, there are so many operators you can work with as a mobile Money agent, and more will keep coming. So How do you know what operator you should work with? Here are a few tips to consider:

Average turnaround time for resolving transactions disputes like charge-backs, failed transfer, POS debit error,  double debit error, POS/ATM dispense error, etc, matters a lot in running a mobile money business. Remember that the bulk of your customers are not high earners and rely heavily on every amount they want to withdraw. So it becomes a major militating challenge when they are unable to access their funds due to in-ept software and hardware solutions provided by operators.  So before deciding on your choice of operator, ensure you try to find out how responsive and fast they are at resolving issues that arise in the course of carrying out transactions.

Pricing is a very crucial success factor in this business. As a matter of fact, Pricing in the banking and finance sector is usually regulated by the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN). However, pricing in the mobile money and agent banking space remains largely unregulated by CBN but rather determined by respective operators and super-agents. Looking at the trajectory of pricing since the commencement of mobile money in Nigeria, one obvious fact is the competition amongst operators and play have been quite stiff thereby forcing prices down year upon year. So when considering what choice to make regarding your service provider, ensure you find out and compare prices because this will certainly determine how profitable your business will be in the near future.

This simply means the ability to which an operator’s solution can work seamlessly with other plug-in solutions. To break this down, interoperability in agency banking and mobile money simply means the ability of your service provider’s solution (hardware or software) to accept all debit card issuers and processors like Verve, Mastercard, Etranzact, Interswitch, etc and also the ability to process transactions for all banks; either debit or credit transactions. Interoperability is very important because in the course of doing business, you will be serving customers of different banks and operators. It is important that your POS terminals and banking apps can serve all types of CBN approved card and account holders. This way, you will be able to serve more customers and make more profit.

Solution here stands for work tool(s) handed out to you by your service provider. In this case, it may include their agent app, Point of Sale (POS) Terminal, Mobile device like smartphone, table, laptop, etc(if you are collecting one from the operator), Biodata capture devices for BVN or National ID, etc. Ensure that these solutions are tested, trusted and durable enough with long lasting battery hours. Endeavour to ask questions from representatives of your provider to be sure that the devices given to you are properly registered in your name and not re-issued to you. As financial inclusion agents, you must be vigilant to ensure that your name or devices issued to you are not used to perpetuate fraud and fraudulent activities.

The agent onboarding process for operators differs. Some are cumbersome with a long list of requirements whilst others are less stressful and easy to undertake. For instance, some operators will only deal if you have an existing business while others are only mindful about how viable your proposed business location is.

Having your wallet/account well funded is a crucial success determinant for this business. However, before you commence business operations with any operator, make sure you find out the process it takes for your business wallet/account to be funded. This is very important because some operators have not fully automated their wallet/account funding process. What this means is that, even after depositing money in the business account of your operator, such a deposit doesn’t reflect instantly in your wallet/account not until you have called your operator and mailed your evidence of payment before your wallet becomes credited. In other cases, there are issues of multiple charges. Some operators charge their agents everytime a deposit is made into the wallet despite the fact that one has likely incurred transportation costs going to the bank to make lodgment. In the light of the above, prospective agents should make proper findings before finalizing agent onboarding agreement.

The commission agents get per transaction matters a lot in business because it is the summation of commission on transactions that translates to profit at the close of business every single day. This is very important as you consider agent banking business. As a matter of fact, this should be one of the first things one should find out before settling for any operator. Compare commission structures and settle for that which gives you more profit, although in this business, your priority shouldn’t be all out profit but first a reliable solution (soft/ hardware), that does not put customers’ funds in jeopardy.

Seek a reliable operator that offers training from time to time. Training and re-training are necessary fundamentals in running a viable agency business. Ensure that your operators have a good trajectory of training agents. Many operators are focused more on making profits and ignoring the aspect of training. The business is a dynamic one which requires that one stays up to date and abreast with the latest tools and technology to better serve your customers.

This support is a kind of arrangement that allows your operator to fund your wallet or account with extra funds to enable you to operate during weekends and public holidays, after which you refund the money to the operator. Not all operators offer the service. So feel free to inquire before getting on boarded with any operator. Studies have shown that agents who get emergency floats perform better and are able to serve more clients than they usually do. Please note that most operators only consider their best performing agents when giving out emergency floats. So if you want to benefit from an emergency float, it is advised that you build a good track record of high performance so that you will be considered when the opportunity comes.

Operating charges represent the costs and expenses one incurs in the course of carrying business operations over a period of time. This is something very important to consider when going into agency banking business. Ask your operator to give a breakdown of all charges that you might likely incur. You should also factor in other charges like account maintenance, charge on Transfer (COT), charges per mile, sms charges, etc.

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