Mobile money was starting to gain traction in Africa, but agent network design, speed of product innovation and ease of use would remain key to market leadership in the field, telecommunications group MTN Uganda sales and distribution GM Shaibu Haruna said on Tuesday.

Mobile money had increasingly become an enabler of financial transactions and was rapidly evolving to allow customers to perform a myriad of transactions, including money transfers, payments of goods and services and international remittance.

He cited the service’s success in Uganda, where more than half of MTN’s customers were “mobile money-enabled” and generated over 25-million transactions a month.

However, he warned that approaching mobile money as just another value-added service would be detrimental to its success.

Mobile money would contribute to revenue of the operator, impact churn and average revenue per user, and provide an opportunity for the operator to leverage on the mobile money agent network.

However, sustained investment in technology, agent network and consumer education, agent training, branding, trade incentives and trade support, were required to build a mobile money ecosystem.

“It is common practice for mobile network operators to approach mobile money deployments as another value-added service, but they are quick to realise that mobile money is a far more demanding service that requires a completely new skill set, organisational design and route to market to make it meaningful,” highlighted Haruna.

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