Africa, the “epicentre of mobile money”
SETH ONYANGO, BIRD
MORE than half of mobile phones users in a recent Africa-wide survey are accessing financial services on their devices, as the raging COVID-19 pandemic staves off face-to-face transactions.
Swedish networking and telecommunications firm, Ericsson, revealed in a recently released study that there’s been a considerable increase in those using mobile financial services transactions.
The survey shows that the adoption of mobile financial services has increased three-fold in Africa over the past six years, with the biggest growth witnessed during the pandemic.
“Consumers are recognizing the value of mobile money – the number of users has tripled in Ghana, quadrupled in Angola and increased tenfold in Nigeria since 2015. Around half of the consumers across the surveyed countries now use their phones for this purpose,” read the report in part.
“The value of contactless transactions has increased during COVID-19 due to the new norms imposed by the pandemic, 54 per cent of consumers state that they use mobile money more now. Furthermore, around 70 per cent are now more positive towards mobile money as a preferred contactless alternate to cash.”
There is also an improved attitude to mobile transactions, with 76 per cent asserting mobile money is perfect for avoiding infection.
About 72 per cent of those polled prefer mobile money on a phone versus visiting agents, while 61 per cent just try to avoid cash transactions.
Users polled were in Senegal, Angola, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Ethiopia –– most of which are not traditionally mobile money-driven economies.
The survey shows that consumers in Ghana had the highest mobile service usage levels, at 90 per cent, with about 80 per cent for Ivory Coast and Senegal.
Ericsson noted Nigeria and Ethiopia are still in the early stages of establishing mobile money use. Interestingly, most non-users in the surveyed markets are now at least aware of mobile money, which was not the case in 2015.
Ericsson’s report shouldn’t come as a surprise, though –– Africa has been the leader of mobile money transfers for several years now.
International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates show that Africa has more digital financial services users than any other region in the world, accounting for nearly half of the 700 million individual users globally.
In 2011, the level of financial inclusion in Africa was just over 23 per cent and jumped to almost 43 per cent in 2017, buoyed by the growth of digital financial services. The figure is expected to be much higher today.
According to African Development Bank (AfDB), financial inclusion has grown dramatically in recent years, as seen in the number of countries that committed to the Maya Declaration and the G-20 Financial Inclusion Action Plan, as well as strategies and targets set by individual governments.
In 2020, there were 27.4 billion transactions in the region, an increase of 15 per cent within a year, Ericsson said. The transaction value was 490 billion US dollars, almost a quarter more than the previous year, according to GSMA’s 2021 report.
In the forecast period, GSMA further states there were 157 live mobile money services in Africa, up 9 per cent from 144 in 2019.
Putting this into perspective, Ericsson said this is more than half of all live services in the world.
“There are now 548 million registered accounts in the region, a 12 per cent increase during the last year. The title “epicentre of mobile money” is more than justified, as the region continues to account for the majority of growth, with 43 per cent of all new accounts in the world,” the firm said.
The report came just a month after MTN inked a deal with payments technology firm, Flutterwave, to will deliver cash to mobile wallets of more Africans via MTN Mobile Money (MoMo), with planned expansion in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia.