21 April 2017

Nigeria: Stakeholders Seek Regulatory Review to Boost Mobile Money

Stakeholders in the mobile money ecosystem have called for a review of the prevailing mobile money regulatory framework, so that the country can achieve the target growth rate in the system.

They noted that efforts to encourage mobile money and financial inclusion could elude Nigeria if Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) fails to review its regulatory framework in line with global practice.

Eric Barbier, chief executive officer, TransTo, blamed growth of mobile money in Nigeria and Africa on regulatory issues."It is difficult to get Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) required approval to send money out of Nigeria because the process is not straight forward".

He added that regulatory challenge has hindered the growth of digital payment and mobile wallet in Africa, he cited South Africa where MTN on two occasions launched Mobile money and it all failed.

This is coming as the World Bank and GSMA, the global body representing nearly 800 mobile operators and 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, this week form a collaboration to achieve Universal Financial Access (UFA) by the year 2020.

The GSMA brings to the coalition a deep knowledge of mobile financial services, a proven ability to innovate, and a commitment to financial inclusion as a core component of its mission. In this context, the GSMA has pledged to support the creation of 500 million mobile money accounts over the course of the UFA initiative.

Some 2 billion working-age adults globally do not use formal financial services and extending access to finance to them is the first building block to build a better life.

The World Bank Group - the World Bank and IFC - has also committed to enabling 1 billion people to gain access to a transaction account through targeted interventions and expanding their network of partners to boost financial inclusion.

Emmanuel Okoegwale, Principal Associate, Mobilemoney Africa, said that large number of redundant mobile money agents is a major challenge of the industry.

He added that from regulatory perspective, Nigerian mobile money industry was well thought out to be Bank and non- bank led with limited telecommunications operators' participation.

"While some industry stakeholders may perceive that as a hurdle, it is actually an opportunity for some others. Though it is clear that in markets where Mobile network operators take the lead, the deployments had been much more successful.

Non - telcos that are focused with the right resources can also take up the opportunities if they think there is a compelling reason."Okoegwale noted: "Africa's remittance market is a developing market fuelled by diaspora migrant labour and just like many industries in Africa, it has its own share of challenges such as regulation, spread and availability of formal financial services centres, agency network etc. As regulation improves, agency exclusivity removed and growth of other digital channels like transfers to bank account, wallets, mobile money, and agent location pick-ups network expansion will further enhance competition in the market space and hence, cost reduction for the customer."


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