CGAP is opening an interesting new series of posts on their technology blog related to agent banking in Brazil (as you know, one of the most important agents is the postal network – Correios). We forward you below their invitation to comment and contribute to their blog.
Two colleagues and I (Sarah Rotman) recently spent 2 weeks in Brazil interviewing agents (termed “banking correspondents” in Brazil) as part of CGAP’s three-country research on agent networks. We started last year with an analysis on the agent economics of M-PESA. We then turned our attention to Brazil, and in the next few months we will look at a country in Asia as well. In Brazil, we worked in partnership with the Center for Microfinance Studies at FGV (Fundação Getulio Vargas), the leading business school in Brazil.
Brazil has the largest agent network in the world with more than 113,000 agents, close to 40,000 of which offer a broad range of banking services including cash-in, cash-out, bill payments, and account opening and loan applications. Agents in Brazil conducted 2.4 billion transactions in 2009. In contrast to Kenya, branchless banking in Brazil is bank-based and card-based. Transactions happen with point-of-sale (POS) devices at each agent location, not via mobile phones.”
Our team visited four locations in Brazil in order to understand agent economics in different regions of this vast country – São Paulo, Brasilia, Fortaleza and Amazonia. We gathered data from about 300 agents and conducted interviews with a subset of about 50 of these agents to understand the motivations, challenges and risks involved in being an agent. We also had meetings with agent network integrator companies and the three largest banks.
Post #2: Making it work for small merchants
certainly a few lessons to be learnt for postal networks with a large number of franchised postal agents