Airtel Money director Brenda Thole has disclosed that the mobile money service now has 1.2 million subscribers. Thole gave the stats at the announcement of Airtel Zambia’s partnership with ProFlight to have air tickets sold via the Airtel Money platform. The 1.2m makes for 24% of the mobile operator’s total 5 million subscribers.
The 1.2m however doesn’t tell the full story. The company disclosed some months ago that of all those subscribers, only about 14, 000 to 15, 000 are regular users of the service and that close to $100,000 is transacted on the platforms daily. Which means, give or take, $3m transacted a month.
Airtel Money was launched in September 2011 and so far subscribers can use the service to pay for a number of things including utility bills, DStv subscriptions, and goods at retail stores such as Spar and Woolworths. Airtel Money can also be used to transact on regular bank accounts as well as accessing on ATMs.
The failure of Mobile Money in most African countries outside of Kenya is a story that was covered by Techzim, which offers a different insight as EcoCash in Zimbabwe really took off. In Zambia however, the lack of focus, market leadership in local Marketing and Distribution, and the proliferation of multiple platforms in before and just after the launch of the first mobile money services, means we have a slightly different landscape and marketing challenge that needs more innovative and creative solutions. Through carefully crafted strategy, a combination of ‘balls’ and talent, and willingness to utilise Market Research, Customer Analytics, and better product development, many of these platforms would fold and the best could be defined by the customers who use it actively daily.
Our take is the higher you increase the number of strategic partnerships who can carry your platform the better. What is even great is having a million customers giving you even a dollar a day of business because they have tried and have come to make your product a part of their lives. That means more people retailers will run to the operator to have the service as a means of payment, other than coercing service providers through deals, where one gets a cut – plus the business from customers. More needs to be done to make customers, retailers, merchandisers, and service providers want to use the product! Mobile money has the potential to change lives and cause massive social impact in communities, ask anyone who has experienced Kenya’s M-PESA and Zimbabwe’s EcoCash.