At the end of July CFIA researcher Iva Peša arrived in Zambia to start a study on mobile money agents as potential entrepreneurs and mediators of financial inclusion.
Mobile money transactions have been gaining popularity in Zambia, especially in the last two years. Have mobile money agents and tellers been able to acquire skills which differentiate them from, for example, scratch card sellers? Can mobile money agents and tellers act as mediators between large telecom companies and customers?
In Kitwe, on the Zambian Copperbelt, Iva is first conducting a survey among 50 mobile money agents and tellers of different companies (Airtel, MTN and Zoona). The first results suggest that agents and tellers are indeed crucial intermediaries to achieve financial inclusion, yet that it is doubtful whether agents and tellers can really be empowered to become sustainable entrepreneurs. It is interesting to note that customers do not necessarily go for those mobile money services which are cheapest, but also take issues of trust and reliability into consideration when choosing an operator. Agents and tellers play a crucial role in establishing the trustworthiness of mobile money transactions and good customer relations are essential to attract consumers and achieve financial inclusion.