Mobiles Money activities refer to all transactions made from a mobile phone. This new mean of payment has become a must in developing countries, enabling financial inclusion acceleration. In 2020, the sector was strongly impacted by Covid-19, and nearly 490 billion dollars were transited via these payment solutions in Saharan Africa. At the beginning of 2022, Euromena Consulting presents its Mobile Money 2021 wrap-up.
2020 had witnessed a series of governmental measures at a national level, facilitating the adoption of mobile money in response to the global Covid-19 crisis. Overall, some 20 African countries introduced measures to suspend or ease taxes on mobile money during 2020.
In 2021, many governments have reintroduced or increased taxes to ensure a return to normal operations and to provide financial security in the context of recovery. For many mobile money operators, this reintroduction represents a real challenge to retain customers acquired during this period. Also, great efforts are expected to ensure optimal customer satisfaction in the face of rising tariffs.
The mobile money market has been shaken by the resounding arrival of fintech in the mobile money sector. In West Africa, Wave has taken the incumbent operators by surprise with an extremely competitive offer. The company offers no fees on deposits and withdrawals and a 1% fee on transfers. This offer is the very opposite of historically designed offers, which imposed fees on the entry and exit of the mobile money portfolio, by allowing free circulation between users. Wave offers an ecosystem that imposes fewer fees on users and appears to benefit from a better perception. By making deposits and withdrawals free, Wave has completely shaken up the paradigm of the mobile money market by letting money flow freely in and out of the wallet.
Wave's success can be explained in part by its strong commitment to financial inclusion. The fintech first established itself in rural areas where cash is mostly used (farmers, fishermen, etc.), and where the incumbent operators had incomplete coverage. The other justification is that of customer centricity: an easy-to-use application, offering a smooth customer experience and a virtually painless fee system.
Mobile money is a powerful tool for financial inclusion and governments and legislators in sub-Saharan Africa have an important role to play in the post-pandemic recovery and development of the sector. The mobile money market is undergoing a major transformation, accelerated by the global pandemic. We have two key takeaways to learn from 2021: the ability to adapt to market changes and a strong customer focus will be key success factors for the various market players.
By Pierre Marion, Consultant at Euromena Consulting