Agent Networks: Vital to COVID-19 Response, in Need of Support


What questions should policymakers consider to ensure agents reach as many people as possible with assistance during and after the COVID-19 crisis?

CGAP notes that of all existing cash-in and cash-out (CICO) networks the most far-reaching among low-income customers — agent networks — are struggling and often are overlooked by policymakers. CGAP lists three questions below for policymakers.

Are CICO networks essential services during lockdowns? CGAP advises that governments consider the diversity in agent networks and map out those who qualify as financial agents to avoid unintended closures. CGAP says governments should focus on agents who can reach the most vulnerable people. 

How can we ensure CICO networks remain viable despite the loss of revenue during the crisis?  CGAP calls for coordination between governments and providers to help cover, subside, or mitigate costs incurred by all parties if they continue to provide services during this economic downtime. 

Can we expand CICO networks to places where they are most needed? Governments, CGAP recommends, should explore short-term opportunities to expand the reach and quality of the agent network to deal with the current as well as future crises. For example, regulatory change to allow more players in some markets could allow for the expansion and reach of G2P distribution now. 

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