Mobile money is a sustainable and scalable way to provide inclusive, convenient and affordable financial services to the unbanked. That said the potential for mobile payments in Nigeria is huge. What has been a big concern in a country with 127 million mobile subscriptions is the slow adoption rate of mobile money compared to relatively smaller countries such as Tanzania and Kenya. At present, Nigeria’s mobile money ecosystem is a sleeping giant.
“According to a recent poll done by research firm NOI, only six out of 10 Nigerians are aware of the service and of that number only 13% are actually using it.”
Today, eTranzact launched ‘PocketMoni500’ project in collaboration with EFInA to drive financial inclusion.
eTranzact International PLC, which facilitates mobile banking services of 11 banks through its mobile switching platform, processes over 1 trillion Naira every year and has more than 11 years’ experience processing financial transactions in Africa.
One of eTranzacts product, PocketMoni, is a Central Bank licensed mobile money service which enables users create an e-wallet on their mobile phones for making payments, fund transfer, as well as for receiving money.
Speaking about the project, Valentine Obi, CEO of eTranzact, said; “We are very happy to be announcing this project at this time. Since we began our mobile money service in Nigeria, it has been clear that significant effort had to be made by stake holders at all levels to educate and incentivize merchants and users, and in collaboration with our partners, we will continue to push until the cashless policy goal is achieved.”
As part of raising awareness about the PocketMoni500 project, members of the PocketMoni team have been making appearances on select radio stations in Kano and Ogun state, educating people and providing incentives to encourage the adoption and usage of mobile money products. The key message is for Nigerians to see mobile money as more than just an add-on service, but as an important component of the payments landscape in Nigeria.
EFInA (Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access) has provided a Technical Assistance Grant of $250,000 towards building a viable mobile payment ecosystem focused on the low-income population in Kano and Ogun State by incentivising and supporting eligible small businesses to serve as mobile payment merchants and agents. EFInA is funded by the UK Government’s Department of International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and has been championing financial inclusion in Nigeria since it was established in late 2007. As part of the terms of the grant, eTranzact will also put in $100,000 and will drive the execution of the project.
Mobile money, a pipe dream?
As we said the giant is sleeping. What we failed to mention was the giant does sleep walk. While sleep walking, Nigeria’s mobile money has boosted financial inclusion to some degree. Between 2010 and 2013, the unbanked population declined from 46.3% to 37.9% with some contribution from mobile money.
At a recent mobile money conference, Kong.com CEO Sim Shagaya shared his thoughts saying, “Until the cost of smartphone acquisition falls and broadband services become efficient and affordable, mobile money will remain a pipe dream.” He then added, “There were occasions when a delivery guy from Konga.com, with about 10 stops to make, was delayed because a customer had to look for the nearest ATM to withdraw money to pay for an item. It just disrupts the entire process. We strongly believe mobile money can play a big role in this regard.” Thus implying the need for robust and a highly functional mobile payment ecosystem that could give further momentum to Nigeria’s e-commerce industry.
In a same conference, Valentine Obi, CEO of eTranzact, commented, “Financial inclusion without value-add will not work, and every day at eTranzact we are working on unique solutions that continue to add value to the end consumer.”
For the potential of mobile money to truly explode, it is important that we begin to see it as more than an add-on — a truly important part of the future of payments in Nigeria.
Beyond facilitating e-commerce, mobile money is a key asset to enable the provision of other services in areas such as health, agriculture, and welfare, etc. Once awaken, the Nigerian market (biggest economy in Africa) has the potential to lead the world in mobile money.