The Group CEO, BlueTag Group, Uzo Eziukwu recently delivered a keynote presentation titled ‘Mobile Money: Beyond Payments’ in which he identified the four stages of Mobile Money evolution in Nigeria.
Uzo who made the presentation at the Association of Licensed Mobile Payment Operators, ALMPO 2019 conference started by saying that MM is fast becoming Africa’s legacy to the world, using Kenya’s MPESA as a typical example, doing about 1.7 billion transactions per year and making up to 50% of Kenya’s GDP.
He revealed that there are over 120 Mobile Money Operators (MMOs) in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and they came into Nigeria in 2010 with a focus to drive financial inclusion and as an adjunct to mainstream banking.
He dissected the journey of MM in Nigeria into four stages:
- STAGE 1: This was described as running between the years 2010 and 2012, and was the time of MM piloting and linkage into mainstream banking. According to the speaker, this was a time to understand the regulatory environment and regulators. This period saw a confusion between collaboration and competition.
This stage saw operators understanding the peculiarities and challenges of the Nigerian landscape. The need to collaborate and align effectively with telcos was also noticed.
This stage had the challenges of integration and knowledge sharing.
- STAGE 2: This stage, running from 2013 to 2015, saw constructive engagement and alliance, as bank and non-bank MMOs engaged with one another and CBN. Also, partnerships arose between MMOs and banks, as CBN further streamlined MM policies.
These moves saw growth in MM adoptions and in the number of bank accounts. The speaker shared that this stage saw significant growth in MM acceptance driven majorly by the already banked.
- STAGE 3: The years 2016 to 2019 were years of active strategy as ecosystems were built and other already existing, viable, ecosystems like health, Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), were harnessed.
At this stage, also, was notable injection on brand intervention, increased regulatory engagement, policy review and alignment.
- STAGE 4: Currently having over 180,000 agents across Nigeria, the future of MM in Nigeria depends on figuring out how to increase customer engagement and how to retain walk-in customers.
Uzo shared that innovation in mobile money operation has to be wrapped around consumer needs and not just payments, needs like micro-credits and service-based lending.
He also suggested products to be created for those at the bottom of the pyramid, products like health insurance, micro-pension, interest-based micro-savings, and rotational savings.
Acknowledging that the theme of the conference was apt, he concluded by sharing that as MM is moved forward, the sound benefits of financial inclusion will be unravelled.