Framework paper

Francis Annan, Prof Peter Quartey, Agyapomaa Gyeke-Dako, Andrew Agyei-Holmes

Markets for digital financial services (DFS) – particularly mobile money and agent banking – are growing rapidly in low- and middle-income countries and are being transformed by several digitalisation initiatives. Retail distribution and vendor networks are necessary building blocks for a robust digital finance ecosystem, due to their ability to convert money between physical cash and digital currency, and to serve as onboarding channels for a broader set of digital financial tools and services. Yet, rigorous quantitative work and evidence about the functioning and organisation of vendor networks, retail vendor incentives and behaviour, and interventions to expand network reach and density is limited, with many open research questions remaining. We develop a framework for these issues and propose a research agenda to inform policy and practice.