Ghana and Nigeria poised for mobile banking revolution
Wednesday 18th May 2011 - West Africans will soon start to experience the benefits of mobile banking, bringing on board millions of people that have been excluded from financial services.
The AITEC Banking and Mobile Money conference will next month bring to Accra the world’s top experts on mobile banking just as several countries in the region are merging their rising mobile coverage with financial systems that will allow citizens to use their mobile phones to transact, transfer and store money.
Similar roll-outs in Eastern Africa have transformed the financial sector. Since the launch of Kenya’s M-Pesa mobile money accounts, more than 13 million Kenyans have moved to using their phones to pay for goods, get cash from ATMs, receive payments and hold savings, in a wave that has seen more than half the population now using financial services.
In West Africa, with several platforms now in place, AITEC will be presenting to the region’s top banking managers’ cutting edge options in mobile banking, as well as information on the necessary safe-guards to ensure consumers’ money is kept safe.
In Ghana, MTN rolled out the first mobile money platform in Ghana in 2009, followed by Vodafone and late last year Ecobank announced the launch of mobile bank accounts with the ZAP platform from Zain.
At the same time, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has now issued approval-in-principle licences to 16 mobile money operators to carry out a pilot of a mobile financial services system for a period of four months to demonstrate that the system can work in the country.
With active mobile phones subscriptions in Nigeria at 88.3 million in December last year, experts have highlighted the potential of mobile phones to provide financial services to the more than two-thirds of Nigerians who are unbanked.
According to the Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA) report, 67 per cent of Nigeria’s population is unbanked and 78 per cent of the nation’s rural population is without a bank account.
Nigeria’s unbanked rates reflect Africa’s average, with only 20 per cent of African families having bank accounts.
However, with Africa having the fastest growth rates of mobile phone market in the world, the continent is now creating financial solutions that rest on mobile phone platforms. The International Telecommunications Union estimates mobile subscriptions across Africa have more than tripled to 333 million since 2005, and in South Africa, the DRC, Zambia and Kenya, mobile phone banking is now taking services to remote areas where conventional banks have been physically absent.
These subscribers are now opening accounts, checking their balances, paying their bills, transferring money, and catering for their daily financial needs without ever entering a bank.
A survey in Kenya last year reported that over 95 per cent of users rated mobile-based payments as quicker, easier, safer, more convenient and cheaper than any other alternative way of paying or receiving money.
The AITEC conference will be presenting on traceability and security in mobile banking, mobile banking via satellite, smart banking applications, and on how best to reach the unbanked with mobile money services, as well as on state-of-the art technology.
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