One of the most difficult – and strategically important – issues that a mobile operator must tackle is developing an agent network. The network serves as the customer’s bridge between cash and e-money; it represents the human face of a service, and the vehicle for boosting product awareness, customer education and registration.
Below are articles, case studies, blog posts and other resources that operators will find useful for researching this topic.

1. WHAT ARE MOBILE MONEY AGENTS?

Introduction: Building, Incentivising and Managing a Network of Mobile Money agents

Author: Neil Davidson and Paul Leishman, GSMA

For an overview of agent networks read this introductory chapter to ‘Building, Incentivising and Managing a Network of mobile money agents’, GSMA’s 2010 handbook.

Download: French | Spanish

What are mobile money agents and what functions do they perform?

Author: GSMA

This video provides basic background information on mobile money agents, their responsibilities and the functions they perform.

2. HOW CAN OPERATORS BUILD A NETWORK OF MOBILE MONEY AGENTS?

Building a Network of Mobile Money Agents

Author: Neil Davidson and Paul Leishman, GSMA

This article explores issues operators face as they build an agent network. It discusses what agents do, how big an agent network should be, how agents are recruited, and other important questions.

Download: French | Spanish

What should operators look for in a prospective agent?

Author : GSMA

What qualities should an agent have? This video highlights what operators need in a mobile money agent including proper liquidity management, a good location, and community trust.

3. HOW CAN OPERATORS INCENTIVISE A NETWORK OF MOBILE MONEY AGENTS?

Incentivising a Network of Mobile Money Agents

Author : Neil Davidson and Paul Leishman, GSMA

How can mobile operators encourage agents to become active and productive in mobile money distribution? Learn what transactions agents are paid for and how commissions get paid out.

Download: French | Spanish

GSMA Webinar on Mobile Money Pricing and Commissions

Author: Paul Leishman and Camilo Tellez, GSMA

These videos are designed to provide mobile operators with a clear understanding of the process that’s used to develop mobile money prices and commissions. It covers a mix of theory and real world examples, and simulates the development process for an imaginary service. (Available in Spanish).

Commissions

Download the Slides: English | Spanish

4. How can operators manage a network of mobile money agents?

Managing a Network of Mobile Money Agents

Author : Neil Davidson and Paul Leishman, GSMA

This article explores how to manage and motivate an agent network, answering questions such as ‘How do operators ensure agents are liquid?’ and demonstrating options for selling electronic value to the channel.

Download: French | Spanish

Three Keys to M-PESA’s Success: Branding, Channel Management and Pricing

Author : Ignacio Mas and Amolo Ng’weno, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

On pages 7-11 of this case study on Safaricom’s M-PESA, the authors explain how Safaricom’s channel management strategy contributed to their success. It describes the options stores have for rebalancing liquidity, including through master-agents and super-agents.

Ensuring Quality Customer Experiences at Agents

Author : Paul Leishman, GSMA

This video explores the role that Top Image – a field-marketing agency – plays in Safaricom’s successful M-PESA agent network. Top Image performs several key functions, including training agents, monitoring float, and supervising activations.

5. OTHER RESOURCES

Agent Management Toolkit: Building a Viable Network of Branchless Banking Agents

Author : Mark Flaming, Claudia McKay, & Mark Pickens, CGAP

This practical guide shows providers how to build a viable network of agents, based on over a year’s research on agents in Brazil, India, and Kenya. In-depth interviews were conducted with 466 agents and dozens of network managers and providers.

Bridges to Cash: The retail end of M-PESA

Author : Frederik Eijkman, Jake Kendall, & Ignacio Mas, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

This case study analyses 20 M-PESA retail outlets managed by an aggregator, PEP Intermedius. It presents observations on the complexities of managing agents, including how often (and why) stores rebalance liquidity, differences between urban and rural agents, and more.

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