Mobile Money is quite the deal these days; payments directly from your phone to any service you need to pay for, like water, electricity, TV bills, and airtime purchases.
Just how many people are actually using it? Not such a great number compared to how many mobile subscribers in total there are in Zambia and mobile operators are aware of that and making the necessary moves.
Recently, the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank, and Airtel Zambia agreed to work together to boost the mobile money platform on that network.
The IFC will provide advisory services as well as business management strategies to push the platform to greater numbers in Zambia.
The agreement is worth a million dollars ($1 million) and is expected to find ways to enhance the use of Airtel Money in Zambia seeing as most of the adult population especially in the rural areas have no bank account or access to other financial services to make quick transactions but are highly likely to have a mobile phone so mobile money is perfect for use by them. They may not have a bank account because sadly there is still a mentality by many that ‘banks are for the rich’ so it’s quite hard to convince them to open one at all.
Mobile Money is a faster and easier way to make payments without having to move, except when you need to deposit or withdraw money for use when you really need cash.
There is also a greater chance of finding a mobile money agent than you have of finding a financial institution in some parts of Zambia where branches have not yet been set up.
Airtel Money Director Zambia, Brenda Thole said, “A key focus area for Airtel Money is to support the government’s mandate to enhance financial inclusion and to reach out to the unbanked population who may still have fears of mainstream banking or believe the services are too costly. This partnership with IFC and The MasterCard Foundation will boost our drive of customer education and help us build strong agent relationships, which are key to the success of this product.”
It is also much easier to use mobile money for payments because you don’t need a smartphone. Any phone will work, unlike for most financial institutions that have online banking where you need internet connectivity to make transactions hence the need for a smartphone, which most lower earning parts of the population may not afford. Mobile Money thus wins here.
However, banks and other financial services providers can get in on the action by integrating their services into the mobile money platform as well so every payment or transaction can be made via a handset, regardless of make or model.
Let’s take a look at the successful mobile money service called M-Pesa (m – mobile, pesa – Swahili word for money) in Kenya. An estimated 70% of the adult population uses it to make payments, and even access loans and insurance. It was launched by a mobile operator called Safaricom in 2007 and has over 17 million users now. So why can’t we have our own success story here too?
Mobile money is a great service especially for the majority poor in Zambia, who now won’t need to walk long distances to get to a bank but have to just visit the nearest mobile operator’s mobile money agents to make deposits and withdrawals, or simply do it from wherever they are if they are making payments or transfers.
To find out more about the IFC please go here.
Image Credits: Register Mobile Money