Today, FINCA International, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, released a case study to highlight FINCA's journey in deploying agency banking in Africa over the past four years. The case study outlines ten strategic, operational and technical learnings that other finance and microfinance institutions can consider when creating or building upon a similar program.
Working jointly, FINCA and the Mastercard Foundation have deployed various digital solutions, such as agency and mobile banking, to scale up financial inclusion efforts and reach more underserved and unbanked communities in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Agency banking utilizes a network of local merchants and shopkeepers, in areas where FINCA usually doesn't have a presence, to provide basic banking services. The agents are equipped with POS (Point of Sale) machines, a portable device that securely connects to FINCA bank accounts through biometric fingerprints. Since launching agency banking in the DR Congo in 2012, over 80 percent of all transactions by FINCA clients in that country are done through banking agents.
Agency banking has since expanded to FINCA's subsidiaries in Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia, working with over 1,400 agents in the field.
FINCA's approach is to adopt and scale technology to deliver efficient, customer centric products while still maintaining close relationships with our customers. Other key lessons detailed in the case study include the importance of gaining institutional buy-in, aligning strategic goals and gaining customer trust to drive uptake and usage.
According to FINCA Impact Finance CEO Andrée Simon, "Agent banking removes a lot of the logistical barriers that prevent people from fully leveraging the financial tools available to them. FINCA is now developing financial products and services to be delivered through this increasingly important channel."
"We're pleased to support FINCA," said Sumaiya Sajjad, Program Manager at the Mastercard Foundation, "as it expands agency banking to reach remote and underserved communities in Africa and offer critical banking solutions. This partnership shows that, by investing in agent networks and value-added services, financial service institutions can better serve their clients and help to close the gap of the financially excluded."
The new case study can be accessed here: http://www.finca.org/about-finca/finca-publications/case-studies/long-road-branchless-banking