What you need to know:
In 2017 the number of agent banking providers stood at just 139, but experienced exponential growth in 2019 to 11,000, before expanding further to 23,000 in 2021 and to more than 26,858 by June this year.
There are more than 26,800 agent banking service providers spread between 22 banks, according to Bank of Uganda.
In a presentation during the annual financial inclusion and financial literacy forum held in Kampala, Mr Alex Ochan, the Bank of Uganda acting head of Financial Inclusion Division, said agent banking has rapidly grown since 2017, paving the way for improved access to formal financial services across Uganda.
For instance, he said, in 2017 the number of agent banking stood at just 139, but experienced exponential growth in 2019 to 11,000, before expanding further to 23,000 in 2021 and to more than 26,858 agents by June this year.
“As of June, there were 22 financial institutions on the agent banking shared platform … the total number of agents for institutions licensed to provide agent banking services was 26,858,” he said, noting that the growth provides fertile ground for financial inclusion in addition to other key performance indicators, which, Mr Ochan said, has seen the number of bank branches grow from 671 in 2017 to 702 in June, while automated teller machines (ATMs) have increased from 910 to 951 in the same period.
Similarly, he said, the mobile money network, which is one of the most widely used platforms, has grown from 147,000 agents in 2017 to 468,000.
Financial inclusion remains a key challenge in Uganda thus delaying a number of economic transformation agendas such as attainment of a cashless economy.
Therefore, Bank of Uganda has been key in pushing for the improvement of financial inclusion by not only supporting sensitisation but developing feedback mechanisms for stakeholders and creating focus group discussions that target personal financial management, saving, loans, investments, insurance, planning for old age, making payments and financial service providers.
During the meeting, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija, said government will continue to provide an enabling environment for the private sector to innovate and responsibly serve people.
According to Mr Kasaija, over the last five years, government has put in place several legal instruments which have supported the financial sector to develop legal frameworks such as the National Payment Systems Act, which supports the regulation of mobile money and other digital payment systems, which have in the past created a lot of challenges.