Mobile Money which offers users the ability to send and receive funds, and pay for a wide range of goods and services using their mobile phones, hasn’t been as successful in Nigeria as it has been in Kenya and other part of the continent. Airtel Nigeria’s Director of Regulatory Affairs and Special Projects, Osondu Nwokoro last week identified the exclusion of telecommunications operators from playing an active role in the implementation of mobile money as a major hinderance to the uptake of the service.
On the other hand, Director and telecommunications analyst for Digital Africa, Armstrong Takang, believes that while mobile operators do play a major role in the implementation of Mobile Money services in Nigeria, the problem stems from the country’s banking industry.
“If I transfer cash through mobile money to a friend or relative, the person is supposed to cash the money through an agent, upon receipt of a short message (SMS) confirming the successful transaction. But the challenge is that the recipient does not have easy and quick access to mobile money agents that are located in far away places,” he said.
According to Takang, the cashless policy was initiated and lead by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), instead of being led by telecommunications operators. Takang pointed out that the telecommunications operators in Kenya were successful, and insists the success of the policy did not rest on the driver of the policy, but on the structures put in place by whoever is driving it.
According to This Day, “the CBN, from the inception of cashless policy in Nigeria in 2010, decided it would be bank-led, based on the sensitive nature of cash control, a decision that did not go down well with telecommunications operators who had thought that CBN would involve them to drive the initiative, since the technology driving the entire process is owned and managed by the telecoms operators.”
Nwokoro lamented the slow uptake of the service, “Almost three years after the issuance of the first mobile money licences, only about 2.2 per cent of adults with bank accounts have subscribed to the service while the unbanked population is yet to be reached.”
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor