Bankers partner with technology firm on agency banking

Apr 04, 2017

The Uganda bankers’ Association (UBA) has partnered with a Kenyan Financial Technology firm, Eclectics international, to form a centralized digital platform that will enable banks to share agents, once agency banking is rolled out.

On the platform, according to Fabian kasi, the UBA chairman, banks will be able to use one agent in a given location, to benefit from cost reduction and centralized monitoring.

"Under this arrangement, we shall have all agents under one central registry, which banks will access in order to appoint their own agents. The agents will also be displayed on our different digital platforms. However, the banks will continue to drive the recruitment of customers and marketing of their other products individually," he said.

Kasi was speaking during the signing of the memorandum of association with Eclectics, at the Uganda bankers' Association offices in Kampala on Wednesday.

Eclectics is a Kenyan based and owned organization operating in 23 African countries providing financial solutions to support banks, micro finance institutions.

He said the tech platform will also increase their points of presence while enabling them to upgrade their technology collectively at a reduced and affordable cost.

"This is a sustainable step for our member banks to reduce their costs of operation and these benefits will be passed onto our customers by way of access to more cost effective channels, new mass market products, and secure lending opportunities to customers through the agents," he said.

He said the platform will also make regulation of the agents easier, and ensure that customers have multiple choices, since all agents will be easily accessible from the same focal point.

Agent banking is a model that allows banks to use agents with a nationwide presence, from various parts of the country, to offer banking services on their behalf.

In January 2016, government passed the Agent banking law, although the product is still waiting for supporting regulation from finance and the central bank in order to take root.

Kasi said banks are keen on riding on digital platforms to increase the number of banked people, who currently stand slightly above six million, and must collectively ensure safety and efficiency.

The Association's executive director, Wilbrod Owor, the platform could have a multiplier effect on the economy and is in line with the national strategy for financial inclusion.

"By reaching out to people through petrol stations, merchandise retailers and wholesalers, restaurants, mobile money agents, clinics and all other stable businesses, we would be making it easier to access capital and in the process increase economic activity which will in turn reduce poverty," he said.

The Eclectics chief executive, Paul Mbugua, said a project of that magnitude could reshape the banking sector in Uganda, making investment cheaper through collective means rather than using the individualistic approach which is expensive.

The association however, declined to reveal the percentage of investment each member brings into the venture, or the total project cost.


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