Stanbic IBTC, experts highlight challenges to mobile money penetration



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Stanbic IBTC and other stakeholders in the e-payment system have identified low-level of awareness and absence of trust as major challenges that have hampered the penetration of mobile money in Nigeria.

Speaking at the 2016 Annual Marketing Conference of Brand Journalists Association of Nigeria (BJAN) themed: “Mobile Money in Nigeria: Challenges, Opportunities, and Threats, Francis Nwoboshi, Head, Mobile and Acquiring Channels, Stanbic IBTC,  who observed that awareness of mobile money is significantly “very low” in Nigeria called for a stakeholders’ collaboration to create awareness, build affordability, quality and availability of key infrastructure.

“Awareness of mobile money is significantly very low. There is need for stakeholders’ collaboration. As an industry, we need to come up with a framework to create awareness, ensure affordability, quality and availability of key infrastructure,” he said.

Corroborating Nwoboshi on awareness level, Ibrahim Abdullahi, Finance Officer, World Health Organisation (WHO), who cited a report from a WHO-pilot mobile money payment in two states in Northern Nigeria; Kaduna and Kano states, said, “public awareness is still very low. For many of our beneficiaries, they are only hearing about mobile money for the first time.”

On the question of trust, a panellist, Emma Agha, CEO, Innovatives, noted: “There is always fear. The average Nigeria is very skeptical when it comes to (mobile) money. They want to see others use it first.”

Another panelist, Emeka Oparah, Director Sponsorship, Events and PR, Airtel Nigeria raised the question of the mobile money model adopted by Nigeria.  Oparah who argued that mobile money in Kenya succeeded because it was telco-led, advocated the adoption of a telco-led model in place of the bank-led model in operation in the country.  “Why not make it telco-led,” he queried.

Reacting, Mr. Musa Jimoh, Deputy Director, Mobile Banking and Payment System Department, Central Bank of Nigeria revealed that the CBN favours the bank-led rather than telco-led model to forestall regulatory arbitrage and giving undue advantage to the telcos which are the sole providers of the infrastructural platform for all e-transactions by banks.

Other challenges highlighted by speakers at the event include the non- existence a single national data, limited agent outlets, high cost of transactions, poor legal framework and profit-sharing contention amongst players in the value-chain.

Mobile Money is an electronic payment solution introduced in Nigeria in 2009 to foster financial inclusion of the unbanked. However, 15 years on, only 1% of 154 million active phone lines users have embraced it as a means of payment.
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