Protecting Mobile Money Agents from Robbery

Following a recent spate of attacks on mobile money agents in Ghana, the Commissioner of Insurance, Dr. Justice Ofori, has encouraged mobile money agents to consider getting insurance.

I don’t know much about mobile money agents being robbed, but I think it is the responsibility of every business person to get some kind of peace of mind, that is insurance protection. So if you’ve seen this happen to your colleague, then you better get prepared because you can also be a victim.

The truth is that mobile money still has a hard-cash leg when customers are doing withdrawals and deposits at the agent point. This means crime that targets mobile money agents is likely to get worse, not just in Ghana but worldwide. More and more outlets are registering as mobile money agents for the simple reason that the demand for these services is growing. The robbers are also aware of this and so they routinely show up at the mobile money agents’ counters and announce, just like in the movie Inside Man, “My friends and I are making a very large withdrawal…anybody who gets in our way, gets a bullet in the brain!”

The spokesperson for the Mobile Money Agents Association of Ghana, Charles Kwasi Addo, earlier bemoaned the incessant robbery attacks on mobile money agents, saying the business is currently one of the riskiest to run in the country. Mobile money operators have on several occasions been victims of robbery attacks, with some being killed, while others are injured.

Mobile money agents can be found in the darkest and innermost sections of any city. That makes them accessible for customers but it is also a drawback because those locations are least policed. It is possible for criminals to raid a couple of mobile money agents back-to-back and then quietly saunter off into the streets.

Whilst the mobile money business is profitable, it is not exactly high margin. An attack on a fledgling mobile money outlet can wipe out the entire business. Operators need to do more to help agents – waiting on governments to solve security issues will not do. One option is to develop suitably-priced group insurance schemes running on premiums that are payable via mobile money. Since the robbers will target mobile money, telcos should let agents use mobile money to protect themselves, at least against the financial cost of crime.

Joseph Nderitu
Joseph Nderitu
Joseph Nderitu is a director at Integrated Risk Services Ltd and specializes in revenue assurance. He previously worked as Head of Revenue Assurance and Fraud Management at Vodacom's operation in Tanzania, having previously served in the same role at Vodacom Mozambique.

Before his work with Vodacom, Joseph was an internal audit manager for Airtel, with responsibility that covered their 17 countries in Africa. Whilst at Airtel, Joseph led reviews of the Revenue Assurance, Customer Service and Sales & Marketing functions.

Prior to his stint at Airtel, Joseph was an RA manager at Safaricom in Kenya. He holds an MSc Degree in Information Systems.