The level of financial inclusion in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the DRC) stands at 26%. This presents a great opportunity for agent networks for digital financial services in the country to accelerate the access of low and middle-income populations to quality financial services.
Despite the presence of several digital financial service providers in the market, both the access and use of these services remains weak. This makes it all the more critical to improve the management of agent networks. According to the World Bank statistics, mobile money accounts have increased from 9.2% in 2014 to 16.1% in 2017.
In the DRC, the use of informal financial services remains strongly anchored among the population. In this context, a careful selection of agents appears to be a good alternative at a lower cost to the provision of financial services. Well-trained, they will be the ideal channels for financial inclusion to become a reality.
The ELAN DRC program and the Fund for Financial Inclusion in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FPM) commissioned MSC to conduct a short-term study on the internal opportunities and constraints in managing the agent networks established and managed by digital financial service providers in the DRC.
MSC conducted this six-month qualitative study from mid-May to late-November 2018. It focused on the five provinces of Kinshasa, Kongo Central, Kasai, Katanga, and Kivu, and involved 19 suppliers and 50 agents.
This study had two main objectives: (1) To understand the internal factors in the management of DRC agent networks that promote or slow the success of DRC agents, and (2) to provide guidance on how operational management of agent networks can improve. The study makes a clear case for increasing financial inclusion through agents—but for that, a long-term investment is essential.
The stakeholders must increase customer awareness, invest in the training and motivation of trainers, improve the process of selection and hiring agents, invest in marketing tools, multiply the liquidity options alongside the management tools of the dual currency, and invest in infrastructure.
In addition, it is necessary to develop appropriate products and services according to needs while ensuring the protection of customers. This would encourage Congolese customers to continue using digital financial products and services and even increase their level of service.