New Sales and Distribution Models in Mobile Financial Services
18 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2013
Date Written: March 29, 2013
In the last five years we have witnessed a transformation in the way financial services are delivered in developing countries. In particular, the rapid mass-market penetration of mobile phones has created opportunities for new business models to emerge. For example, the financial inclusion industry is intimately familiar with Safaricom’s M-PESA, which is now being used by most adults in Kenya. Recently, successful mobile money deployments in other markets have challenged the perception that mobile money is a Kenyan story while banks and financial services startups are using mobile money platforms to deliver new services beyond payments.
In the midst of this rapid progress, there has been little attention dedicated to the evolution of sales models and customer engagement strategies in this new mobile financial services era. Empowered with mobile connectivity, financial services providers are increasingly utilizing existing retail infrastructure as agents for cash-in/out. They’re also migrating sales and distribution functions outside of traditional branches through outsource partners, mobile-enabled field agents, or even self-service via the mobile.
The primary hypothesis of this paper is that, despite the promise of increased reach and efficiency gains, these new approaches are fraught with challenges. High-touch engagement at the point of sale is often still necessary, especially for low-income clients. Additionally, moving beyond payments to more complex products (e.g., insurance) requires a specialized, labor-intensive sales channel and careful selection and management of new types of channel elements (e.g., retail sales agent outlets or roaming field agents). Finally, sales messages need to be streamlined to communicate a clear and simple value proposition to clients, which is not easy to do in less controlled environments characteristic of non-traditional channels. This paper aims to draw insights from market players that are seeking to overcome these challenges in the race towards scale.
Keywords: mobile finance, mobile money, distribution, sales, financial inclusion
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