The United Nation’s Mobile Money for the Poor Programme (MM4P) was doing a number of projects that involved digital finance agent networks. I reviewed all the projects related to agent network management across five countries, and then conducted field visits to three projects in Zambia and two projects in Uganda to help MM4P understand what parts of their work were innovative and the important lessons for the rest of the industry.
In Zambia, I authored a case study titled, Growing Big While Still Small- Kazang Case Study, which describes how a small technology company in Zambia is using POS machines to build thousands of agents across the country, and compete with large corporate mobile money operators.
In Uganda, I reviewed very impressive work being done to leverage selected agricultural value-chains to enable bulk payments to farmers in extremely rural and remote areas. The economic enclaves created by these value chains were supporting some of the most rural agent networks I had ever seen function — some 50 to 100 kilometers away from urban centers in very low infrastructure environments with very low population densities. This is some of the best work on rural distribution for digital finance that has been done. Some of the findings were eventually published in a report called: Deploying Booster Teams to Breech the Rural Frontier of Digital Financial Services.