Tag: africa mobile banking

Mobile payments brings banking services to the unbanked of the world

Customers that have never had access to financial institutions are using smartphones to change their capabilities.

Many of the countries in Africa have been extremely underserved by banks for a range of different reasons, but mobile payments are now bringing financial services to customers who have always been unbanked.

This is especially true in Nigeria, where mobile money is becoming an important driver in the local economy.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has launched a massive initiative to boost the use and access of mobile payments and money. Among the reasons that this is an important effort is that it will provide them with a tremendously larger market as it will mean that those who were underbanked or completely unbanked will suddenly be able to access financial services by way of their mobile devices.

With mobile payments and banking, location no longer presents a barrier to being able to reach consumers.

This access to mobile banking is bringing individuals who had been far removed from participation in much of mainstream commerce into the ability to take part in widespread economic transactions. Therefore, this means that consumers that had previously been outside of the center of commerce will be accessible to industries beyond simple payments and into pensions, insurance, and other areas.

Mobile Banking - AfricaNone of those industries had been able to establish physical locations that would allow them to be able to sell to consumers in the traditional way, but by using mobile commerce and accepting transactions over smartphones, this has changed the game, entirely.

As the growth in telecom and smartphone and mobile technologies continues to grow and expand, and as the financial services industry increasingly rises to the challenge of offering mobile payments and banking services, the situation has altered across entire African countries. People who live in rural communities that are nowhere near phone lines and cables are gaining access to banking and transactions through financial institutions and telecoms such as UBA and Airtel, MTN and Diamond Bank, First Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Ecobank and Globacom.

Similarly, M-PESA has been making a tremendous splash in reaching the unbanked and rural Kenya, where the mobile money system has taken off extensively, with 17 million users (one third of the adult population of the country) and 40,000 agents. Every day, that service processes over 2 million transactions.

Mobile banking has become a highly desirable market in Africa

Banks are now vying for a top spot in this marketplace where the potential for growth is astronomical.

The African marketplace is providing a rather unique mobile banking opportunity to financial institutions that are looking into new areas of considerable potential, as the majority of people there have cell phones, but do not have bank accounts.

This provides the opportunity to use mobile technology to bring services to a fresh banking market.

This concept is far from simply being theoretical. Mobile banking is already seeing explosive growth in many countries throughout Africa and now banks are hoping to be able to step into these economies in order to make sure that they don’t miss out on this new revenue stream. At the moment, many of these services are currently dominated by telecom companies, as is the case in Kenya. However, in that country, one of the largest banks in the country – Equity Bank – is entering into the battle in order to reclaim some of the turf that it has traditionally called its own.

Currently, M-Pesa holds the top spot as the most popular mobile banking service in Kenya.

Mobile Banking - AfricaM-Pesa gives an individual in Kenya the ability to use a mobile wallet for receiving payments, sending funds to other users of the service, or even withdrawing cash from agents at roadside stands and convenience stores located throughout the country. The company, itself, is owned by Safaricom, which is a Vodafone Group subsidiary in Kenya.

This service is providing banking services to individuals and business owners who have previously been unbanked. That said, it offers them a range of service that are highly useful to them. For example, it means that their funds can be kept in digital form so that their risk if they are robbed is considerably lower. Furthermore, individuals who live in rural areas but who migrate to the city to work there for weeks or months at a time can send funds back to their families without having to make the physical trip.

The M-Pesa mobile banking service first launched in 2007, and now it is handling an estimated $18 billion in annual transactions. This from individuals ranging from the pedicab drivers in Mombasa to the cattle herders in the distant villages of the Rift Valley, and everybody in between; nearly all of whom have previously been unbanked despite the fact that they make up approximately 43 percent of the economic output of the country.