This blog post is the second in a two-part series on mobile money agent loyalty. Read the first post in this series.
In my previous blog post, I discussed the state of global registered and active mobile money agents, and outlined reasons why mobile money providers should consider agent incentive schemes. This blog post outlines what providers can offer beyond cash incentives, such as commissions, to increase stickiness of their agents, increase agent activity and customer uptake, all while enhancing customer experience through innovation.
While much has been written about building, incentivising and managing a network of mobile money agents, providers require more creative, disruptive, unconventional and sometimes radical initiatives to keep their agents loyal. And it will also require some calculated risks taken depending on the market context and the operator’s own understanding of which options or combination of options may work.
|Snapshot: How Safaricom is rewarding M-PESA agents for their loyalty
In its 2017 Annual Report, Safaricom attributes the growth to innovative initiatives rolled out to support their agents. Some of these include:
|a) M-PESA Agent Regional Awards schemes – ceremonies held at the regional level to recognise and reward good performing Agents who excel in important matrices that promote business growth such as high liquidity availability, operational excellence and best business practices such as quality customer service.|
|b) M-PESA Agent weekend financing to support and complement working capital requirements to help agents replenish their float especially when bank facilities are unavailable.|
|c) Expanded access to financing options by entering into partnerships with banks to extend long-term business loans to M-PESA agents in order to increase their float capital and expand their businesses.|
|d) Strengthening agent relationships by enforcing structures in the aggregator model  which ensure that sub-agents are brought closer to the business and are recognised as important partners together with ‘principal’ agents. Safaricom encourages formal contracts between the principal and the sub-agents to ensure fair treatment of all classes of agents.|
Based on several interviews and discussions with mobile money providers, the GSMA has put together a few recommendations that providers should consider as they implement an agent loyalty program. These are focused on four main areas: alternative revenue streams, negotiated financial facilities for agents, improved relationship management, and a structured rewards system. It should be noted that these loyalty recommendations have not taken into account country differences in terms of regulatory and competitive environment, but instead offer more general insights.
In order for mobile money services to grow, it is important that alongside agents, there is an equal push by providers to customers through marketing campaigns that encourage them to use mobile money. When implementing an incentive program, one factor to consider is how long the provider has had a relationship with the agent, and how quickly the relationship can be built. Some providers had initial long-term relationships with airtime distributors prior to launch of mobile money, and converting them to mobile money agents was already in itself an additional stickiness factor.
The GSMA is keen to gather further insights on what innovative initiatives mobile money providers are implementing to keep their agents loyal. We will continue to populate these recommendations as we receive them from different providers and share them with the wider industry.
 Aggregator model