5 January 2018

Africa: Nigeria Struggles As MM International Remittances' Boom in Africa

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Nigeria's is still struggling while other African countries are enjoying mobile money international remittances and experts who should know are worried.

Emmanuel Okoegwale, Principal Associate, Mobilemoney Africa, explained that Mobile international remittance is about convenience and cost saving for the senders and recipients of international remittances.

"It makes mobile money more viable for the supply side operators. In some countries in Africa, more than 50% of in-bound remittances already pass through the mobile device with significant cost saving and reach of service. It's a compelling service anywhere inclusive of Nigeria which is one of the most competitive remittance markets in the world and a top tier remittance destination nation. The adoption of mobile phones, network operations, mobile money with agency network are major drivers across Africa though in Nigeria, the growth is not as robust like across Africa," he said.

He added that international mobile money remittance is an icing on the mobile money cake." It adds viability to the mobile money operator's business. International mobile money remittance already exists in Nigeria but adoption is still low compared to direct to account or over the counter cash-outs. One of the reasons can be linked to the size and distribution of the agency network which is required sometimes for cash out. The issue around international mobile money remittance regulation is still there with significant requirements for the licensing; however the regulator is actively pursuing a soft-touch approach to many of such issues now."

On low adoption of Mobile Money in Nigeria, Okogwale said that if agency network size alone is used to measure the mobilemoney adoption in Nigeria, it will be a poor judgment.

"Yes, agency network is required however most of the operators are pushing resources into building self-serve channels like USSD, APK, SDK etc to enable the customers transact on their own therefore lower their cost of deploying agency network.

"Nigeria is a very large nation and any operator seeking to deploy a well-connected agency network will have to deploy significant resources or it is highly subsidized. The fragmentation of the agency network is a reflection of the market coverage per operators. The agency network cannot grow ahead of their market size," he added.

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