HONG KONG - The GSMA today announced that nine mobile network operators, including Bharti Airtel, Etisalat Group, Millicom, MTN Group, Ooredoo Group, Orange, STC Group, Vodafone Group and Zain Group, have committed to work together to accelerate the implementation of interoperable mobile money services across Africa and the Middle East regions.
Collectively, these operators account for 582 million mobile connections across 48 countries in Africa and the Middle East. The GSMA’s Mobile Money Interoperability (MMI) programme is a global programme which also includes mobile network operators from other regions and focuses on helping them to successfully launch and scale interoperable mobile money services through identifying and sharing best practices, guidelines and processes, creating performance benchmarks, and providing regulatory support.
“We have seen the significant benefits of mobile financial inclusion in the developing world and operators recognise that, through collaboration, there are opportunities to extend this inclusion even further,” said Anne Bouverot, Director General, GSMA. “Mobile network operators are engaging with each other, with banks, financial institutions, regulators, governments and ecosystem partners, to identify and implement solutions that will successfully allow more mobile financial services to be delivered to a broader range of people across both regions, while maintaining high service quality. We are very pleased that these operators are taking the next steps in providing convenient, affordable and ubiquitous financial services to men and women across the region.”
Mobile Money Market Landscape
It is estimated that 2.5 billion people in lower to middle income countries lack access to financial services and cannot adequately invest in their livelihoods, protect their assets nor mitigate shocks that cause them to fall deeper into poverty. However, it is estimated that 1.7 billion of these people have a mobile phone, providing existing infrastructure that can be used to sustainably offer financial services such as payments, transfers, insurance, savings, credit and cross-border remittances. GSMA research has shown that the number of active mobile money users continues to grow rapidly, with more than 61 million accounts active as of 2013.
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is widely recognised as a pioneering market for mobile money and is home to 52 per cent of all live mobile money deployments worldwide. In some of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries, although there are a number of regulatory challenges that have slowed down the growth of mobile money, it is now gaining popularity in the region. At the end of 2013, deployments in MENA represented six per cent of the live mobile money services globally and 13 per cent of total planned services, indicating that the region will become increasingly important for the industry globally.
As of December 2013, mobile money in the Sub-Saharan Africa and Middle East and North Africa regions showed significant growth:
- The regions accounted for 58 per cent of the world’s 218 mobile money deployments;
- Sixty-six per cent of all registered accounts and 73 per cent of active accounts are located in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa; and
- Mobile money users in these regions accounted for 77 per cent of global transaction value in June 2013, performing 341 million transactions totalling USD $5.7 billion.
Bouverot continued, “Mobile money is a young industry, with over 80 per cent of all deployments launched during or after 2010. In order to accelerate the growth of mobile money, we call on telecommunications, financial sector regulators and policymakers to provide a policy and fiscal environment that enables these services to be rolled out successfully to promote a nascent and important driver of commerce and socio-economic development.”