Undeniably, innovations have a way of changing lives. Lives change for the better but some times for the worse.
Whereas, agent banking has brought banks closer to the people, it has definitely wreaked havoc in some areas, yet offered opportunities to both the bankers and users.
To narrow it a little, in reality, the tellers’ job is at risk and with the increased innovations in digital banking the threat becomes more apparent and visible. Digital experts have warned and advised that perhaps, it is time a teller’s job and others in such category, are modified to avert the catastrophe of massive job losses.
Denis Ruharo is the chief executive officer at DMark, and attests to the fact of how agent banking has impacted tellers.
“The reality is, many people are online they have less time to come to banking halls. Therefore, as a teller, reskill,” he says.
Data from the World Economic Forum report 2020, indicates that about 43 per cent of businesses, which include banking, will reduce workforce or integrate workers into new roles.
Therefore, it is important to understand how the teller job will be modified into a ‘job of tomorrow’.
On average, companies have reported that 94 per cent of workers pick new skills on the job.
This trend has been increasing over time assisted by rapid growth in technology.
Therefore, in the alternative, Rubaho says, tellers have been provided an opportunity to become their own boss by becoming agent bankers in the immediate or financial and marketing advisors in the longer term.
The numbers speak for the future of agent banking, which according to Goretti Masede, the Uganda Institute of Baking and Financial Services chief executive officer, will take customers away from the banking halls to the streets and coffee corners in search of agent bankers.
About 11 per cent of Ugandans, she says, have bank accounts while 76 per cent have mobile money accounts.
To break this down, there are about 1.3 million accounts compared to about 23 million mobile money accounts.
All these are different mediums but Masede believes banks, just like telecoms, can leverage on agent banking to tap into new territories, which subsequently create new opportunities.
“Banks need to tap into mobile and digital transactions by coming up with products that are closer to the people,” she says.
Indeed, Mackay Aomu, the Bank of Uganda director for national payments, says Covid-19 has presented us with challenges that need us to rethink not only banking but the modify payment systems that are biased towards e-systems.
“As the regulator, we need to implement regulations to enhance electronic transactions. By the end of the year we want [to put] regulations in place to control e-payments,” he says.
“We have come up with regulatory measures,” he says, and notes that financial institutions that want to come up with financial innovations, shall be allowed to pilot or test their products in a more regulated manner.
Agent banking was introduced in 2017 and has since accumulated close to 13,000 agents across the country.
It has become an important medium of transaction, extending banking services closer to the population.