Agents Count: The True Size of Agent Networks in Leading Digital Finance Countries
This paper lays out a framework for measuring access to digital financial services provided via cash-in/cash-out agent networks in an ecosystem. It clarifies the distinction between an agent till, which is a provider-issued registered line (either a special SIM card or a point-of-sale (POS) machine) used to perform transactions for clients, and an agent outlet, which is a physical location that carries one or more agent tills and may also have other businesses or support functions.
The study highlights the importance of factoring in network activity rates, since dormant outlets are not performing services. In sum, it argues that the number of active agent outlets, ideally geo-located, is more appropriate for measuring access to finance in a country than the number of agent tills, which is generally used by the regulators and the industry. Findings suggest that the use of agent till statistics has led to an overestimation of global access to finance.