Agency Banking is an increasingly important strategy in digital financial services distribution in Africa. This branchless banking strategy uses the Agent Networks’ capabilities of greater geographic reach and penetration in rural areas to serve a higher number of customers.
However, it is not enough to use agents to succeed in this Alternative Delivery Channel (ADC). There are several obstacles on the ground that make agency banking operations difficult.
It is essential to have the right agency banking software for your business structure and objectives. So…
How to choose the Best Agency Banking Software?
In this blogpost, we’ll go through the 8 most important points that you should keep in mind when choosing a solution suited to the needs and evolution of your business.
1. Obstacles of the Field Operations
Whether you’re located in Africa or another emerging market, there are always problems related to field activities.
The agency banking software you choose must be capable of adapting to the market specificities and constraints, such as difficult access to remote areas, weak technologic infrastructure, and poor internet coverage.
That’s why a mobile solution designed to work offline is so important.
The software must be ready to work on offline mode when needed: keep working, capturing data, and save information on Offline Mode, assuring that the Agents can keep selling your services, even with no signal coverage.
Another obstacle to consider is the undocumented population.
In emerging markets, a large number of the population has no official identity, which for security and regulatory reasons becomes a blocker stopping you from selling services.
For you to provide a service, you’ll need a software ready for those kinds of KYC operations: a solution compatible with biometrics devices and prompt to capture customers data, such as, ID information, photos, signatures, and so on.
2. Sales Requirements for Heavily Regulated Services
As you know, Banking & Finance is a heavily regulated sector. Therefore, it is natural that in more risky financial services the sales requirements are more complex.
That’s why some financial services are organized by tiers. These tiered structures act as security and risk management measures and they are linked to the “tiered-based KYC” procedures: the higher the tier is, the more complex the KYC gets.
Hence, you must bear in mind the previous aspect and go for a technology capable of covering all customer segments.
You must considerer the services you offer to what segments and their level of requirements. low-value accounts, for instance, since the amounts are lower and the types of activities are simple, you’ll need a KYC feature capable of capturing not much more than the basic customer information, with basic identification: the name, birthday, address, gender, photo of the ID/Passport.
On the other hand, the higher-value accounts will need an agency banking software capable of capturing and collect all customer information, with PEP (Politicly Exposed Person) check, AML and other more in-depth KYC information.
The software you choose should enable all the processes needed according to the service you offer. If you’re a fintech with simpler services, you might not need a more detailed KYC. Or you might need to consider a software capable of offering more complex products and high-value transactions. The higher the value the more complex KYC verification the software you choose must be capable of covering.
3. National Mandatory Requirements
The capture of personal data is a sensitive issue. Therefore, in many cases, governments impose rules related to the management of citizens’ data and severe sanctions on financial institutions that do not comply with them.
Due to issues with security and prevention of corruption, fraud, and other crimes, the agency banking software must be adapted to the legal regulation of data treatment of the country you’re selling your financial services in. The rules may change from country to country, but many have strong restrictive regulations.
The problem is that many software platforms store their data in cloud servers that could be in other countries. So, if “storage and management in national territory” is a mandatory requirement, you will need an agency banking software that assures that the data collected doesn’t leave the country, with options of on-prem installation, for example.
Failure to comply with the regulations enacted by the regulator can often result in the loss of the activity’s license.
4. Visibility & Control over Field Operations
Managing an Alternative Delivery Channel is not an easy task. One of the biggest problems is not being able to follow what’s going on in the field.
To solve that, you’ll need a solution that gives you more visibility on the activities and, of course, powerful controlling features to remotely manage the ADC from your company’s office.
You can opt for your own staff or selling your services through Agents, either way, they’ll be remote teams, so it’s important that the agency banking software you choose allows you to control in-field operations, giving you a holistic overview of the day-to-day operations:
check the performance of your Agents (or staff members)
follow analytics dashboards with the channel’s KPIs
get data reports
check the geographic location of your team’s and agents’ activities with GPS location
manage a training program for your team
Tools and features capable of providing rich information about what is happening in the field and about your remote workforce performance will help you to build a good agent relationship and to avoid any type of misconduct that may cause damage to the company brand.
These features also help you control other daily issues such as liquidity management: if the software platform is able to give you real-time liquidity overviews, showing all the data about cash under management and paid commissions, you can keep track of liquidity and avoid cash shortages and never leave your Agents without resources.
5. Systems Interoperability
Heads up for this point! IT issues can easily become a huge headache and turn into a business blocker. Failures of legacy systems, poorly made integrations between interdepartmental systems, Data Silos, you name it…
Be sure that the technology you select is flexible, integrations-friendly and ready to easily integrate with Core Banking Systems.
The best agency banking software must have an API that allows your Core Baking System and your Agency Banking Software to be connected, assuring a successful share of data. The integration must enable seamless communication between systems, making sure both systems have the same information updated. The microservices IT architecture is becoming more and more popular due to its agile capacities.
Good interoperability allows a much better flow of data through the organization. This is crucial for any company that aims to be data-driven and to make well-sustained decisions.
6. Reporting Capability
The reporting capability is related to the issue of visibility (point 4), as good reports – rich in information and details – are crucial for channel analysis, building good forecasts, and business overviews.
Many Agency Banking solutions claim to offer channel digitization. But are they doing it the right way?
It is not enough to guarantee the digitization of processes. The software should not be a cluster of separate solutions, in other words, it cannot be a set of solutions for different needs. For example – a system A for Digital Customer Onboarding, a system B for KYC, a system C for Sales, and so on. In these cases, the reporting capability is deficient, as it makes data crossing difficult.
Only with a platform logic is it possible to correctly digitize the Alternative Delivery Channel.
A platform model software, in which all capabilities and resources are seamlessly linked, ensures cross reports capable of providing good insights.
So, go for a “platform logic” with complete Reporting resources and be sure the agency banking software is capable of digitizing and collecting all data – online and offline – in one place. It’s better to be an integrated platform that won’t add more steps than needed.
7. Evaluation System: Agent Scoring
Agent Scoring allows you to classify your Agents (or staff) by strengths.
Why is this important?
With this evaluation system with different metrics, you will be able to understand what Agents are better suited to sell and manage specific types of services.
For example, you’ll be able to better define your product offer strategy and decide what Agents are better qualified to sell more complex products. A system that allows this tracking of performance will help you to evaluate risk and decide the operations you want to give to each Agent.
8. Future Steps & Growth Strategies
Where is your organization going? One thing is certain: adaptability is increasingly important.
In a fast-changing market such as the Financial Services Ecosystem, a software that gives you the capacity to quickly adjust your company to new trends is paramount. It’s a safe way to not compromise your business growth.
Hence, choose a software that enables you to upscale products, quickly adapt the offer and integrate new features as your business grows. A good Agency Banking software must allow adding new features as the alternative channel grows and gains relevance within the organization, without the need of exchanging equipment or software.
An innovative agency banking software is capable of adding other apps and external services, through simple and fast integrations. This matches a marketplace resource logic, supported by a Super App model. The Super App and the marketplace then allow “plug and play” integrations, that is, super easy integrations for external services or apps by 3rd parties:
open banking services
Do you already know Waynbo?
Waynbo is the solution developed by Papersoft, designed according to the needs of Agency Banking services, by accelerating and simplifying all processes, with tools to overcome limitations and increase productivity.
Feel free to ask us for some advice on Agency Banking topics!