While Kenya’s mobile money use hit $2.6 million per hour, Zambian telcos, Airtel Zambia and MTN Zambia have just teamed up with bus operators. Through the partnership agreement, commuters will now be able to purchase bus tickts through the mobile money service. Airtel money customers who buy tickets using the platform at Mazhandu Family Bus Services, Power Tools and Zambia-Malawi Bus Services (KOBS) will enjoy a K5.00 discount on all routes serviced by the bus companies. Alternatively, MTN mobile money clients only have one choice of bus operator which is Mazhandu.
At the snail’s pace that mobile money functions are growing, we can only wonder whether Zambia will ever enjoy the full convenience and benefits of the service. In Kenya for example, a study on social and economic mobile money networks in Kenya found out that Kenyans use the service to create and enhance relationships by sending money and airtime gifts. The technology has become an integral part of a majority of Kenyans to the extent of transactions increasing by $4.4 billion from last year’s, which stood at $18 billion. In the period of October to December, 2013, Kenyans transacted over 6.2 billion dollars on their mobile phones. Kenya Bankers Association in a survey released last week found out that mobile phones are the main avenues through which most Kenyans (64%) receive or send money locally.
Additionally, on Wednesday Zimbabwe’s second largest mobile operator, Telecel ZImbabwe, unveiled its own mobile money transfer Telecash to rival Econet’s EcoCash. “We can reach every member of society through Telecash. All the banks have been included and its not an exclusive service,” said AfrAsia Bank’s managing director, Tineyi Mawocha.
In light of this, the question that begs to be answered is, just how inclusive are the mobile money services in Zambia? I mean, we definitely haven’t reached the stage where we use mobile money for almost everything and anything. I wish for a day when payments for small jobs, such as delivery services, can be transacted remotely. I wish for a day when I can send money to anybody regardless of which mobile network they subscribe to. I wish for a day that I can pay my bus fare (within the city) with mobile money in case I forgot my wallet at home. I wouldn’t need to worry about my wallet growing stretch marks from the number of coins collecting. Wouldn’t life be a breeze?