​​Agency banking: Learning papers explore pricing, technology preparedness

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

WSBI's Scale2Save programme programme released today two new learning papers that explore pricing around agency banking. Written by Scale2Save Local Technical Specialist Kimathi Githachuri​, the papers cover two specific areas of agent banking: pricing and technology costs.

Agency banking pricing: Decisions along evolution

​The first paper, titled Agency Banking Pricing: Decisions along evolution focuses on how pricing strategies have been applied by banks in trying to create viable agency banking services in West Africa, and to what extent distribution management plays a core value proposition for customers. The analysis contained in this paper helps frame some of the debate swirling on social media during past year on digital financial services (DFS) channels in Kenya – the birthplace of the hugely popular M-PESA mobile money service.

The paper includes a case study on FCMB Nigeria, a top-tier retail bank​. The study delves into FCMB’s ‘EasyClub’ for farmers in the north of the country.​ The paper also explores EasyClub pricing strategies to motivate deeper agent network distribution, which remains crucial to greater access and use by farmers.

Across the different geographies, from the east to the west of Africa, it is evident some common pricing strategies could potentially be employed, with of course variations to suit the local conditions. A set of learnings provided, if applied, may help shape strategic design, particularly at the beginning of the agency banking network roll out​. One finding explains that customers would rather pay for trustworthy services readily available and reliable to them. They will shun cheaper service with lower distribution footprint or less reliability.

Agency Banking Pricing: Boon or bummer

The second paper, titled Agency Banking Technology: Boon or bummer​, ​​looks at how technology application has proven to be the challenge that has served both as a boost and a bummer, in equal measure, during the financial inclusion journey of the last 10 years.​

To explain both, the paper provides a case study on microfinance institution Advans in Ivory Coast​ to argue that it may be possible, and in fact quite common, not to find a technology solution that fits a local situation. An institution’s existing technology service providers, which have already acquired client knowledge, may have know-how on agency and/or digital banking solutions. That said, the author advises banks to look first at the greater service provider market to find out if a workable solution exists that can potentially be tailored to an instiution’s situation, meanwhile avoiding being a “Guinea ​pig” for a service provider.

Another finding shows cost of acquiring technology solutions invariably affects thro​​ughput price of service to customers, as the institution may want to recover whole or parts of the associated costs of the technology. That means ensuring the pricing structure agreed upon factors this in. Githachuri​ also notes the value in seriously considering shared agency banking solutions instead of cost duplications on a solution. Easily shared bilaterally or between multiple financial institutions to not only share initial costs, but also distributing future development costs.

Agency Banking Pricing: Decisions along evolutionAgency Banking Technology: Boon or bummerSEE VIDEO


Scale2Save, Barid Cash sign MoU

Scale2Save, Barid Cash sign MoU

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

BRUSSELS, 7 May 2020 – WSBI and payment institution Barid Cash signed recently a memorandum of understanding to conduct research to better meet the needs of Moroccan informal savings groups.

The two-part study will include quantitative and qualitative research to understand the concept of ​“Daret” – a traditional way for people in Morocco to organise and form an informal savings groups, also called “tontine” in other parts of French-speaking Africa. Data collected assess Daret’s potential within the country’s population size, based on gender and age segments, as well as appetite for a digital version of Daret proposed by  a financial service provider.

Barid Cash Managing Director M. Benanane said: “We need to understand better and analyse more carefully the people who use traditional “Daret”. We want to find out what drives them, detect specific preferences and behaviours among socio-professional categories.” 

Tracking awareness levels, attitudes

Researchers will seek to learn about the awareness levels and attitudes of Moroccans, especially towards savings as well as how people use savings for moments in their lives, such as daily needs like food, medicine and school fees.

Barid Cash will conduct qualitative fieldwork via focus groups and interviews, sampling from a population that ranges in age from 18 to 70 with monthly revenue of DH 2000 to 20,000 (~US$200 to 2,000). More specifically five main groups will form the sample group, including those living in both large cities and rural areas and places. They include: Informal savings groups, low-income and irregular-income, banked and unbanked populations, including women; students; small-scale traders and craftsmen, small show owners and self-employed entrepreneurs.

A report detailing the study results expected in 2020 will feed into strategic and operational decision-making by Barid Cash in its quest to launch a “Daret” digitalisation project.

Digitising Daret 

Digitising Daret processes means tapping into the existing mobile payment ecosystem and creating a new offering for an unexplored market at national level. Women and young people could gain much from digitising this traditional, community-based form of savings. Opening a basic account to access a digital tontine platform will thereby provide a gateway to a whole array of financial services beyond savings.

Weselina Angelow, programme director for WSBI’s Scale2Save, concluded: “Customer-oriented market research efforts like this help us understand better aspects of Daret. Digitising it could bring new life into the tradition-rich savings group format and allows us to drive further use of this saving method to get more people to save, and beyond.

Notes to editors:

About Scale2Save:

Scale2Save is a partnership between WSBI and Mastercard Foundation to establish the viability of small-scale savings in six African countries. The six-year programme aims for 1 million more people banked in those countries through projects using innovative models. Learn more about Scale2Save online and @Scale2Save on Twitter.

About Barid Cash: 

Barid Cash is a subsidiary of Al Barid Bank, Barid al-Maghrib group, created in 2014 to offer Moroccans a new local service, becoming a benchmark in terms of national and international money transfer and cash services. Its status subsequently progressed towards financial activity thanks to obtaining in 2018 the licence of Bank Al Maghrib for a Payment Institution. Barid Cash then embarked, like its parent company, on a dynamic of financial inclusion, by joining the national mobile payment project “PMN”. Barid Cash is now riding the technology wave and offers an alternative account opening offer to the traditional offer based on fundamentals which makes it more accessible and flexible as well as new means of payment (mobile payment via M- Wallet Barid Pay, Fissa3 electronic payment card) with the novelty of merchant payment allowing the latter to diversify its means of payment acceptance thus creating an ecosystem of M-payment. Learn more about Barid Cash at www.baridcash.ma

​About WSBI:

The World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI) represents the interests of 6,760 savings and retail banks globally, with total assets of $16 trillion and serving some 1.7 billion customers in nearly 80 countries (as of 2018). Founded in 1924, the institute focuses on international regulatory issues that affect the savings and retail banking industry. WSBI supports the achievement of sustainable, inclusive, balanced growth and job creation, whether in industrialised or less developed countries. Learn more at www.wsbi-esbg.org.