This blog is co-written by Lara Gilman and Janet Shulist.
Although mobile money services have extended further into rural areas than more traditional financial services have been able to in the past, rural customers still remain an underserved segment. A key barrier to reaching these customers is operational. Creating, managing and sustaining an agent network in rural areas remains an industry blind spot.
To address this supply-side challenge, today we are releasing a new publication, conducted in partnership with Altai Consulting, on the supply of mobile money in two predominantly rural markets: Mali and Chad. The starting point was simple: by understanding how successful rural agents operate, the industry can also begin to understand how providers can adapt their operational strategies to serve more remote locations and identify the ones to focus on first.
Although this research did not uncover a silver bullet to mobile money growth in rural areas, it did reveal “green shoots” of opportunity. In both Mali and Chad, there are successful agents operating deep in the frontier without access to either formal financial services or core physical infrastructure like electricity, transportation, and roads. By analysing these green shoots, this research aimed to reveal what contributes to success and how this can help providers to better serve rural customers. The report outlines four key findings that can provide operators insight on how to adapt their operational strategy to extend reach, including:
- Local context matters, and data can help to prioritise areas for growth
- Focus investment on fewer and more specific rural profiles
- Effective master agents can bridge the liquidity gap
- Evaluate the role of operator collaboration in the rural context
Further, the Appendix also offers a full description of how to build user-friendly and actionable geo-based go-to-market tools, including technical notes and implementation details. Analysing both telco call detail records (CDR) data and mobile money transactional data against key macro-economic attributes can help operators to visually pinpoint regions with higher transactional potential. Using these data sets, operators can build an efficient go-to-market tool to guide their rural expansion.
Photo: Courtesy of Maxime de Lisle, Altai Consulting.