Despite consumer wallet-sized shrinking during a rough economic period in the past year, Safaricom has gained more M-PESA users and agents, further strengthening its already dominant position in the mobile money market.
In their sustainability report for 2021, the telco reports that M-PESA users are up by 13.6%, totaling 28 million monthly active users, who can be served by any of the 247, 869 M-PESA agents across the country.
The network of agents by Safaricom helps customers to register for MPESA, deposit, and make mobile money withdrawals.
The company is attributing the 43% increase in agents to two significant changes that were made in their application process for agent acquisition.
First, Safaricom made adjustments on the float ratio required to apply for additional tills to 30:70.
Here, it means that if 30% of the tills in a Head Office have met the required float level of KSh.20 000, the Head Office can apply for additional tills.
Additionally, they increased the number of tills that an agent can apply for at a single point in time from 5 to 15.
The significant position that MPESA agents hold in the Safaricom business cannot be underscored enough, and the company has implemented more strategies to strengthen and secure its role.
It is especially important in a period where the agents have also been affected by the pandemic like anyone else.
“Our agents act as brand ambassadors, helping us to reach a wide range of customers,” Safaricom.
Agents Loan Services
M-Jeki, for instance, is an unsecured short-term loan offered to the agents’ head offices to cover expenses like airtime, float, and device purchases.
There is also Okoa Float which operates similar to Okoa Jahazi for Safaricom voice customers. The service was introduced in August of 2020 to help M-PESA agents who need to complete customer deposits but might not have enough float money at that moment.
“To date, 450 agent head offices and 30 000 sub-agents have utilized this service. The current loan book value is KSh.400 million.”
Security becomes an obvious concern, in a period where reports of unauthorized users operating tills, swim swaps and identity theft are on the rise. Safaricom has been aware of this, and they started with a geo-locking feature for the agents, that restricts operations that are not within the locality where the agent has been assigned.
Safaricom holds forums and agent assistant training both physically and virtual, to provide information to their agents on how to boost integrity and security.
“To highlight awareness, we have educated agent assistants and agent head offices on the issue of escalating SIM swap fraud. This was augmented by our implementation of a dynamic SIM allocation system to mitigate the time taken from creation to the delivery of the tills to the agent stores, as well as the cost of the physical tills,” Safaricom Sustainability Report, 2021
Agents Reward Scheme
A reward scheme dubbed Stawisha Biashara has also enjoyed a fair amount of success, an incentive program that gains agents a point on every 1000 transactions that they conduct.
A total amount of Ksh. 30.1 million has been redeemed by M-PESA agents through this scheme since 2019.