Agency banking offers the potential to increase and deepen financial inclusion across Uganda. Following regulations passed in July 2017, banks in Uganda can use agency banking—an extension of services traditionally offered in bank branches whereby third parties (agents) o er these services on behalf of banks—to expand their presence, particularly in rural areas where brick-and-mortar branches are often expensive. For instance, estimates indicate that over 9 million Ugandans need to travel more than an hour to access a bank branch.1 For customers, agency banking means reduced travel time as well as greater access to and increased convenience of formal financial services.
Since 2014, the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) has focused on improving access to financial services in Uganda through its MM4P programme. Core to this effort has been an initiative to support leading banks to implement agency banking as an alternative delivery channel. To do so, UNCDF partnered with five banks on projects between September 2016 and July 2018, providing technical assistance grants in addition to facilitating expert guidance through consultancy firms as the banks designed, piloted, and rolled out agency banking in Uganda.
This publication captures experiences from these projects, exploring key expectations, the status of digital financial services in Uganda before launching agency banking, regulatory aspects of the projects, insights from the projects, and future considerations. It also shares valuable lessons and recommendations that the projects revealed about agency banking regarding banks, agents and customers.