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New services boost reach of mobile money

A recent IMF report, 2018 Financial Access Survey, published at the end of September, underlines again the importance of mobile money in low-income countries.

Low income countries now lead the world in the take-up of mobile banking. In fact mobile money accounts are said to outnumber bank accounts by two to one. The growing influence of mobile money services in places like Bangladesh, Myanmar and Guyana means that Africa is no longer the main user of mobile banking – but it is still the mobile money leader. In the light of which, two pieces of mobile money news from Africa are quite timely.

First, from Kenya, comes the recent announcement that subscribers to Kenya’s Safaricom and Telkom will now be able to transfer funds to and from the long-established and dominant M-Pesa system to Telkom’s recently launched T-kash seamlessly and at no extra cost, bypassing agents and putting funds straight into their virtual wallets. This news follows plans announced earlier this year by Kenya’s three main mobile service operators to integrate the mobile money ecosystem through money transfer interoperability.

Meanwhile, also in East Africa, comes the news that MTN Uganda has partnered with Mastercard and United Bank for Africa (UBA) to offer a new service that will enable quicker, safer and more convenient online payments globally.  Through this partnership, MTN MoMo customers will use a virtual card – called MTN MoMocard – to shop or make payments at outlets accepting Mastercard payments.    The MTN MoMocard is linked to a customer’s MTN MoMo account but is accessible on any type of mobile phone. The customer simply dials a number and follows the instructions given.

All of which underlines the continuing potential of mobile money in Africa and, it seems, supports the IMF report’s finding that take up is driven by “increased trust in mobile money, coupled with pent-up demand for financial access”.

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