Savers prefer banking on mobile phones says survey

SavingsA study published by a global mobile operator’s lobby reveals that mobile phone money services have become the favourite method of savings around sub-Saharan Africa.

The 2012 Global Mobile Money Adoption Survey tells us that 81.8 million cellphone subscribers had mobile money accounts, with the world-wide of use of the handsets for deposits growing by almost 38 per cent.

The annual survey is conducted by Mobile Money for the Unbanked (MMU) and the programme was launched five years ago to speed up the availability of mobile money services to the unbanked poor who survive on less than $2 (KSh. 170) per day.

The lobby works jointly with mobile operators and the financial industry to present affordable, safe, and convenient financial services to millions of unbanked customers.

The report has identified six services with more than one million active customer accounts with three of them having crossed the one million members threshold during the year.

Some countries like Kenya boast of more mobile money transfer accounts – 26 million – than bank accounts – 15 million.

The GSMA Mobile for Development Managing Director, Chris Locke, said that there were now more mobile accounts than bank accounts in Tanzania, Madagascar, Uganda, and Kenya, and more mobile money agent outlets than bank branches in at least 28 countries.

As of June 2012, there were 56.9 million registered mobile money customers in sub-Saharan Africa, and this was twice the number of Facebook users.

More than half the countries in sub-Saharan Africa, 34 out of 47, have live deployments, and 37 per cent of the 166 mobile network operators in the region had already launched mobile money.

The report said that the penetration would keep on growing as the majority of planned deployments were also in sub-Saharan Africa.

The GMMAS survey also said that mobile money also helped to bring banking services nearer to the people even in places where banks were not heard of earlier.

In Kenya, mobile phone companies have proposed services that include savings, cash transfer, loans, bill payments, and airtime purchase.

Statistics from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) shows that the total value of money transactions on the six mobile platforms, including Mobicash and Tangaza, went up by two times from KSh. 732 billion in 2010 to KSh. 1.5 trillion at the end of 2012.

M-Pesa, which has a sway over 80 per cent of the mobile money transfer market, earned KSh. 10.4 billion from fees in 6 months till September 2012.

Last year, Safaricom partnered with Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) to launch M-Shwari for M-Pesa customers that allowed them to save, earn interest, and borrow through their phones. In some countries, the total value of mobile money transactions tantamounted to a substantial portion of the country’s overall GDP. In Kenya it was equivalent to more than 60 per cent of the GDP as at June 2012, as compared to 30 per cent and 20 per cent of the GDP in Tanzania and Uganda respectively.

The research also showed that more than 30 million people worldwide undertook 224.2 million transactions amounting to KSh. 386 billion ($4.6 billion) in June alone.

Out of the 150 live mobile money services for the unbanked, 41 were started in 2012 while industry players readied themselves to meet the growing demand.

Image courtesy: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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